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To help end mass shootings, the NRA should invest in mental health efforts

Community Counseling Center

The Community Counseling Center is celebrating 50 years and getting a new location in San Luis Obispo.
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The Community Counseling Center is celebrating 50 years and getting a new location in San Luis Obispo.

It’s time for the National Rifle Association to step up. Few would disagree that it is the person behind the gun causing individual and mass shootings. So where is the NRA’s support for mental health programs that address individuals, families, the homeless, the jobless, the underpaid, the veteran, those who cannot afford professional, individual, long-lasting mental health treatment?

Why isn’t the NRA using its extensive lobbying power in the halls of the Senate, Congress, state legislatures to fund mental health efforts already in existence to prevent atrocities like Las Vegas, Parkland, Sandy Hook, and others? The budget for the National Institute of Mental Health was cut significantly for 2018. Why isn’t the NRA offering grants to existing agencies or funds to build facilities for all levels of mental health care?

Many foundations and local philanthropic agencies operate on shoe-string budgets, depending on grants and donations as well as some meager funds through Medicaid and Medicare. They work with toddlers through school age and college students. Families in discord, single parent families, potential suicide victims, veterans with PTSD, the displaced, immigrants — the underrepresented community often pays nothing at all for professional help. Volunteer therapists donate thousands of hours and the sparse professional staff are paid below their worth because they believe that a mentally healthy community can prevent tragedy if help comes in time.

Our local Community Counseling Center (CCC) is an agency developed for this purpose. Its treatment and referral services are tailored to the individual and family, requiring little or no payment. CCC accepts Medi-Cal recipients. Over the past few years it has undergone significant growth in clients and expansion of its outreach and facilities. More funding is needed to reach those still in need.

Volunteers to help with staff duties and donations to secure a permanent home and upgrade services are urgently needed. You can help today by going to www.cccslo.com and donating to the cause of a mentally healthy community.

C.A. Bailey is vice president of the Community Counseling Center Board of Directors.

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