News Article Details

EDITORIAL: We must take a proactive approach to mental health

Boston Herald - 1/19/2019

Jan. 19--The sting of tragedy can sometimes spur action and the results sometimes make for a better world. In the wake of the Lowell Sun/Boston Herald special report on teen bullying, a bill is being filed by a state legislator to address the mental health aspects of the issue.

Dracut Rep. Colleen Garry, a Democrat, is filing the bill titled "An Act establishing a Commission on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder."

As the Lowell Sun'sRick Sobey reported, Garry is joining forces with John MacDonald, a veterans advocate. The goal is to file legislation they say could help those facing mental health and post-traumatic stress disorders -- especially kids who have been bullied.

The bill would bring together numerous experts to address mental health and find effective treatments for PTSD, according to MacDonald. He said he wants to help veterans, first responders and children like Anna Aslanian, who at 16 years old took her own life in October after relentless bullying.

Though it's not a school bullying bill, MacDonald said he hopes this legislation could improve the public's awareness of PTSD, so others can recognize when there's a serious problem. "We want parents to see the signs within their kids," he said. "We want them to be able to step in and prevent this from happening."

Under the proposed bill, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services would establish a PTSD commission. MacDonald said this bill would not cost taxpayers a dime. It would consist of about 20 experts, including Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard University PTSD Research Laboratory and Massachusetts Veterans' Affairs, among others.

When a person takes their own life, too often those closest to them had no idea that they were in such an emotional dark place. Some people with mental illness give no overt indication that something is wrong.

That is what "An Act establishing a Commission on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" is trying to address. Such a commission might save lives and bring hope to the hopeless and their loved ones. Debate and discussion around the bill need to happen, but Rep. Garry and MacDonald have embarked on a worthy mission.

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(c)2019 the Boston Herald

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