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Psychiatrist: Many with mental illness undiagnosed, untreated

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By Alexis Wiley
Fox 2 News


SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WJBK) -- The mass shootings of 2012 have brought the issue of mental illness to the spotlight.  The hope now is to be able to help those struggling with the disease before there is another tragedy.

I spoke to a psychiatrist, who said this should serve as a wake up call.  Services for those living with mental illness have been cut so thin that we as a nation are missing opportunities to help before it's too late.

"We have more of this occurring here than in any other country," said Gerald Shiener.

This wave of violence has left us all scrambling for answers.

"We're looking not to stop these things from happening.  We can't ever completely stop them, but we're looking to put impediments or speed bumps into someone who might think about doing something like this," Shiener said.

He said banning assault rifles is part of the solution, but getting people access to mental health services is a huge piece of this puzzle.

"They are falling through the cracks.  These are people we used to take care of," said Shiener.

Used to is the key word.

"In these tough economic times, public and mental health has been dismantled," Shiener said.

Without proper funding, Shiener said many of those living with mental illness are going undiagnosed and untreated.  We don't know exactly what mental issues 20-year-old Adam Lanza may have been dealing with, but neighbors paint a picture of a young man who didn't interact with others and had grown increasingly withdrawn.  As we learned Friday, he had access to his mother's guns.

"If we had more mental health services, if people were more involved, they weren't embarrassed and they had better access, maybe we could identify some people at-risk," said Shiener.

Now while there aren't as many free resources for those in need, help is still available.  Click here for a list of mental health websites compiled by the Michigan Psychiatric Society.

Question and Answer

MONICA GAYLE: It seems like there is more discussion these days about depression, but what are some of the other signs we should be watching for.

WILEY: If you notice someone becoming more withdrawn, angry, or if they mention hurting themselves or some else, you've got to speak up.  Tell a teacher, a family members or anyone who can intervene.

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