Florida shooting puts spotlight on mental health resources

The shooting rampage that took the lives of 17 people and injured 14 more in Parkland, Fla., is putting a spotlight on the difficulties for school districts to treat students with mental health issues.

Only 25 percent of students in need get access to comprehensive mental health services. Due to lack of resources, it makes it difficult for counselors to track students who may need help.

Lurie Children’s Hospital Pediatric Psychologist, Colleen Cicchetti said the reality is that resources are thin when it comes to students access to comprehensive and sustained mental health services--services that could have identified the suspected Florida shooter, Nikolas Cruz.

“In all likelihood a child who was in trouble, pulling fire alarms and being kicked out of school, would’ve been known to the school and they probably working really hard to get him help," Cicchetti said.

But clearly the efforts fell short. Without the ability to track expelled students like Cruz once they leave the school campus, counselors have a difficult time making assessments.

The former agent in charge of the Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center is now with Chicago’s Hillard Heintze security consultants said comprehensive strategies with mental health services are critical.

“Untreated mental illness is very critical these days. Most mentally ill people in this country are law-abiding citizens, of course. But when you have behaviors of concern, someone that’s intimating a targeted act of violence, a court ordered mental health treatment has the potential to save lives," Matt Doherty said.

A court order could allow officials to go in and remove guns and get the troubled individual the help they need.