Burris Institute: Behavioral Health

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    Kelly Burris, PhD

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Welcome to Burris Institute: Behavioral Health

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    The Burris Institute represents the only evidence-based program process in behavioral health and coaching. We are calling on all in behavioral health and coaching to join the scientific community and to prove what you claim you can produce. In other words "show me the money" (data). If you cannot show me the data then please do not tell me what you are doing is working. This group is about setting a higher standard in behavioral health and coaching that is understood by all.

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    Unfortunately, it generally takes a tragedy to spark public discussion about mental health issues. Occasionally, a well produced movie garners attention for a short time, such as One Flew Over the Cuckoos's Nest, Rainman, and A Beautiful Mind. But it is disturbing that the tragedy in Arizona, that harmed 16 victims, which became a polarizing political event and was used by others in the media who have agendas, has failed to spark discussion of special needs students and mental health in the US. Questions about mental health have not been addressed that are related to the tragedy in Arizona. It is very likely that the young man will be issued the MMSE of Folstein psychological examination or a simalarly developed psychological test to determine if he is mentally competent. But the true purpose of the test is to determine if there is evidence of organic brain damage and other mental health issues. But there has been little discussion by the major news media about when and whether such a test is administered and if it can be done properly and professionaly. It is not certain if the judge assigned to the case will order the tests, his attorney will request one, or the jail holding him will request such evaluations. In April of 2007 the Associated Press releasd a story a short time after the tragedy at Virginia Tech in 2006. Here is a link to the article: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18249724/. An interesting question(s) was raised in the article; "What is it about modern-day America that provokes such random violence?", "Is it the decline of traditional morals?", "The depiction of violence in entertainment?", and "The ready availability of lethal firepower?". There are three problems with this question. First there was very little follow-up to the question - such as additional interviews with experts conducted and the responses published. Secondly, the question was loaded and the few answers provided immediately, only addressed access to firearms. Third is that there was no suggestion as to the mental health component that may provide an answer to such an important question. Obviously, I am focusing on the third shortcoming. We have a crisis concerning Special needs students, many whom require alternative classroom settings to replace the traditional classroom to assist them in getting through highschool. There is a broad range of special needs, but I am concerned about students who display mood changes, anti-social behavior, and violent outbursts. Because of the limited services, but at least enough services that the student with such issues is assigned to Special Needs Teachers (I've taught in two such settings) and these teachers from experience know when to back off, give distance, to give them space. And that is the heart of the issue. Once they leave school they will no longer be protected and therefore society will no longer be protected. And there will be virtually no services available after they graduate or leave school, unless the student's family has enough resources and they use their resources to provide on-going services. But many of these students when they are in a highly functioning mood can secure a part-time job, enroll in college, and even get involved in relationships, especially if they are quote "attractive" or have an infectious "smile". And this is a "time-bomb" waiting to explode. If one or more of these attachments collapses - they are fired, receive poor grades in college, and/or break-up in their relationship suddenly it is as if "society is rejecting them". It is the same kind of response when they acted out in response to other students staring at them or harassing them when they realize their buttons can be pushed so to speak. But once they are adults these is much less supervision and the violence can become extreme because they can be calculating (dwell on abstractions they cannot handle properly mentally). This aspect of the tragedy in Arizona needs discussed by the newsmedia. Should we make it illegal for these types of special needs students from purchasing firearms? This can be accomplished by having the schools notify authorities when they are juniors, seniors, or drop-out. The authorities like the ATF will then include them on watch lists in case they apply to purchase a firearm. Also these students are not being taught how to deal with their special need appropriately, especially once they are out of school. They do not know how and when to ask for help before they "shutdown" and "turn-off'. Another issue to adress: "What is the best way to work with these persons - is it to require on-going mandatory counseling, should there be a required use of medication (and who assures they use it), or a required use of counseling and/or therapy? Society needs to address how society (officials and tax payers) will make resources available to work with special needs students and address this serious mental health problem. How many more tragedies will it take before the news media and society wakes up and demands answers? Your comments and feedback are welcome. Tim Trogdon

    Tim Trogdon
    January 14, 2011
    4:25 AM
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