Gun Law May Discourage Mental Health Therapy for Those Who Need It


Mental health experts say a new, tougher New York state gun control law might interfere with treatment of potentially dangerous people and even discourage them from seeking help.

The law requires therapists, doctors, nurses and social workers to tell government authorities if they believe a patient is likely to harm himself or others. That could lead to revoking the patient’s gun permit and seizing any guns.

In interviews Tuesday, one expert called the new law meaningless and said he expects mental health providers to ignore it, while others said they worry about its impact on patients.

Dr. Paul Appelbaum at Columbia University said the prospect of being reported to local mental health authorities and maybe the police might discourage people from revealing thoughts of harm to a therapist, or even from seeking treatment at all.

“The people who arguably most need to be in treatment and most need to feel free to talk about these disturbing impulses, may be the ones we make least likely to do so,” said the director of law, ethics and psychiatry at Columbia. “They will either simply not come, or not report the thoughts that they have.”

“If people with suicidal or homicidal impulses avoid treatment for fear of being reported in this way, they may be more likely to act on those impulses,” he said.

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  • Evermyrtle

    Good Heavens, now I think I have heard it all, If not, it is more than I can understand or abide. Still it fits perfectly with the rest of the plan!!

  • Richard Gibbard

    Remember, the former Soviet Union used to lock its political opponents in mental hospitals.
    Alnother thing to consider is that psychiatrists forfeited their credibility to judge insanity when they quit recognizing homosexuality as a mental disorder.
    The psychiatric profession is too compromised to be considered reliable.

    • LukeSr

      @Richard Gibbard  It hurts me to admit that their credibility is in question. It’s not just the comment you mentioned, it goes much deeper than that. The APA has become politically motivated. But the overall point is that it doesn’t take a mental health expert to come to the conclusion that this regulation is going to hurt people in the long run.

  • Dorisc

    People who are mentally ill will not go to a Dr. if they think it may cause the Dr. to call authorities who may put him away for no reason except the Dr. thinks he may be dangerous.Lots of mentally ill out there that are only a danger to them selves.If they dont go to Dr. where will they get help./? Politicians put these laws and rules in place without reckoning the danger they are causing to innocent people.

  • LukeSr

    As a Psychology student, the first thing that comes to mind is the fear a patient might have that the precious confidentiality they would expect to exist between them and their counselor will be in jeopardy. Don’t we as therapist / counselors swear to uphold and respect the right to privacy and the innermost thoughts of the people we seek to help? If a person is suicidal what is left to motivate them to seek help if they think their privacy is going to be breached? Even if health care providers ignore, it will the patients do the same? I fail to see anything good coming from this…

  • Evermyrtle

    We are a spot where we never dreamed that we would ever be. It is going to take a strong faith in GOD to survive it. We cannot survive it except we  all put into the hands of GOD AND HIS SON JESUS CHRIST. It is  absolutely necessary  that we put our faith in HIM. Those who do not have HIM or want HIM have no place to go.

  • CarolFryer

    This is simply like the nazis when they created gas chambers to heal the mentally challenged. It creates a new class of criminal. Every dissabled person will be suspect also.