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Sandy Hook Families Voice Support For Sen. Murphy's Mental Health Reform Act

Cassandra Basler

Families of two victims of the Newtown school shooting thanked U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) on Friday for moving the Mental Health Reform Act of 2016 through the Senate.

Mark Barden’s 7-year-old son, Daniel, was killed in his classroom by the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Barden said the bill will help Sandy Hook Promise, his nonprofit which, among other things, teaches people to spot early signs of mental health issues in an individual and how to get help for them.

“Look, we know the vast majority of people suffering with mental illness will never engage in violent behavior,” he said. “But I also know that if something like the Mental Health Reform Act were in place a few years ago, perhaps, perhaps I’d be rushing back to Newtown now to meet the school bus, and have little Daniel hop off the school bus and into my arms.”

Barden said there were real opportunities to get the school shooter the mental health help he needed before he resorted to violence.

The act would increase access to mental health coverage and would help train teachers and primary care providers to better screen for mental illness. It passed the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions with unanimous bipartisan support this week. It’s now before the full Senate.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.
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