Day 2 of Abbott’s roundtable to focus on gun regulations, mental health

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Gov. Greg Abbott is hosting Day 2 of roundtable discussions at the State Capitol on Wednesday. 

They’ll be focusing on gun regulations, the causes of gun violence and mental health.

“You can’t just worry about making somebody happy,” Sarah Newcomer told KXAN. “This situation is not about making people happy. It’s about fixing a problem.”

Newcomer lives in Austin and graduated from Crockett High School in 2016. 

She told us she struggled with mental health issues growing up. She had suicidal thoughts. 

Newcomer explained, “Instead of hurting other people, I hurt myself, which is how a lot of kids react.”

But she was able to see a therapist at her high school, thanks to Vida Clinic’s partnership with Austin ISD. 

Without therapy, she said, “I probably would have made a permanent decision to a temporary problem.”

AISD has mental health clinics at 18 secondary schools and 22 elementary schools.

But Newcomer said there should be even more resources for students, as well as parents. 

“We need to educate everyone in mental health,” she said, “for signs they can look for, things they can do to help support their children.”

Newcomer suggested providing programs for parents “at a PTA meeting, mentioning mental health or just doing a random meeting before a band concert or a theater play.”

She said, “Just 10 minutes to talk about it, give out information, phone numbers, websites. Answer maybe a few questions. Maybe some kids will get saved.”

She also went on to say school security should be improved as well. “There’s nothing wrong with putting a metal detector at a high school door, just have it built in,” she said. “We should find the funding for those things. It’s not how we’re going to find it. It’s we need to, we have to.”

We also spoke with a mental health advocacy group, NAMI Texas. They said they told the governor’s office they wanted to be part of the roundtable discussion, but they never heard back.

They told us, however, they would like to make sure this conversation about mental health doesn’t stigmatize people who’re struggling with mental health issues.

Greg Hansch, the public policy director for NAMI Texas, said, “It is critical that policies be put in place that support resiliency and protective factors for students. In the event that they start to experience signs and symptoms of mental health illness, they should have tools in place that reduce the risk of crisis and violence.”

He also told KXAN there should be a Red Flag Protective Order statue in Texas. That’s when families or law enforcement can petition to have a judge temporarily confiscate someone’s gun if that person is experiencing a mental health crisis. 

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