After Newtown: Mental health resources in Austin

As part of PBS’s After Newtown initiative, we asked our viewers how KLRU should respond to the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary. An overwhelming number of you wanted us to focus on access to mental health care. KLRU will also feature this video during Need To Know on Feb. 22.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is dedicated to education, early detection and advocacy for people who suffer from mental illness. According to the group’s numbers, “one in 10 children struggles with mental illness severe enough to cause significant impairment to their day-to-day lives,” and only half of those children receive treatment. NAMI aims to diagnose these cases early, by working with teachers and parents to teach them how to identify and deal with symptoms.

NAMI Austin President Adrienne Kennedy joined us in studio for a conversation about what her organization does, and what sorts of resources are available to people living in Central Texas.

NAMI is hosting a Capitol Day on February 28 at the Texas State Capitol. Lawmakers will speak, lunch will be served, and an afternoon rally will take place on the South Steps. You can find more information about Capitol Day on their website

After Newtown Specials Feb. 18-22

PBS and KLRU will air a week-long series of programming on school violence, mental illness and security issues on Feb. 18-22. PBS NewsHour, Washington Week, Frontline, Nova and other PBS shows will include special coverage on these topics.  KLRU will feature an interview with members of Austin’s National Alliance on Mental Illness during Need To Know on Feb. 22. Need To Know airs at 7:30 pm Fridays and the complete local interview will be featured online.

Other special After Newtown coverage includes:

After Newtown: Guns In America at 8 pm Feb. 19
AFTER NEWTOWN: GUNS IN AMERICA is an unprecedented exploration of America’s enduring relationship with firearms. From the first European settlements in the New World to frontier justice; from 19th-century immigrant riots to gangland violence in the Roaring Twenties; from the Civil War to civil rights, guns have been at center of our national narrative. Americans have relied on guns to sustain communities, challenge authority and keep the peace. Efforts to curtail their distribution and ownership have triggered epic political battles. This program traces the evolution of guns in America, their frequent link to violence and the clash of cultures that reflect competing visions of our national identity.

Frontline: Raising Adam Lanza at 9 pm Feb. 19
In the wake of the mass killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, FRONTLINE investigates a young man and the town he changed forever. Adam Lanza left behind a trail of death and destruction, but little else. He left no known friends, no diary. He destroyed his computer and any evidence it might have provided. His motives, and his life, remain largely a mystery. In collaboration with The Hartford Courant, FRONTLINE looks for answers to the central-and so far elusive-question: who was Adam Lanza? Also this hour: In the aftermath of the tragedy, President Obama called for a national conversation about guns in America. Nowhere is that conversation more intense than in Newtown, where FRONTLINE finds a town divided and explores how those closest to the tragedy are now wrestling with our nation’s gun culture and laws.

NOVA: Mind of a Rampage Killer at 8 pm Feb. 20th
What makes a person walk into a theater or a church or a classroom full of students and open fire? What combination of circumstances compels a human being to commit the most inhuman of crimes? Can science in any way help us understand these horrific events and provide clues as to how to prevent them in the future? As the nation tries to understand the tragic events at Newtown, NOVA correspondent Miles O’Brien separates fact from fiction, investigating new theories that the most destructive rampage killers are driven most of all, not by the urge to kill, but the wish to die. Could suicide and the desire to go out in a media-fueled blaze of glory be the main motivation? How much can science tell us about a brain at risk for violence? Most importantly, can we recognize dangerous minds in time — and stop the next Newtown?

Path To Violence at 9 pm Feb. 20th
Ever since the wake-up call that was Columbine, schools and law enforcement have developed multiple strategies to prevent attacks. Indeed, the horror of Newtown needs to be seen in a context that’s not defined by defeat. Remarkably, more than 120 school assaults have been thwarted in the past ten years. But, while security hardware and physical barriers can play a deterrent role, it’s been psychologists working hand in hand with law enforcement officers who have come up with the most helpful tools to prevent violent attacks. The Path to Violence tells the story of a powerfully effective Secret Service program – the Safe School Initiative – that’s helped schools detect problem behavior in advance. Yet, despite the progress made, recent attacks reveal a gaping hole in our safety net. Shooters like Adam Lanza, Jared Loughner and James Holmes all executed their attacks after they’d left their respective schools. In such cases, parents may be the first and only line of defense parents who are terrified of their own children and who receive inadequate help from the mental health and legal systems. Can the hard-won gains made by social psychologists and law enforcement be extended to encompass the parents and families of some of the nation’s most violent individuals? Further, is the country ready to have a national conversation about the balance between school safety and civil liberties that any such interventions – including gun control – require?