In 10 funny minutes, John Oliver explains all that’s wrong with the U.S. mental health system

Here’s one of the reasons I love John Oliver. He cuts through the bullshit and tells it like it is. Last week, there was yet another mass school shooting in the United States. This led to understandable cries of how absolutely screwed up our gun laws are, as we’ve become a country where practically any Joe Schmoe can amass an army full of weapons pretty easily on his own it he wants to. And as the NRA diabolically continues to oppose even the most common sense gun regulations — like making guns safer — they invariably dodge the issue by blaming mental illness for all the carnage. Mind you, these folks never do anything to make mental health treatment better or more accessible. They just love the idea of conveniently shifting the blame to the mentally ill.

This is so frustrating to me, because the latest mass shooter always becomes the new Face of Mental Illness. Never mind that the vast majority of people who have a mental illness never do anything even remotely close to a mass shooting. The NRA and their ilk seem to relish making scapegoats out of the mentally ill. If you developed a drinking game for every time some NRA foot soldier says “It’s not guns that kill people; it’s lunatics that kill people,” you could get soused pretty quickly.

That’s why I love this segment from John Oliver’s show, Last Week Tonight. Any of us who has experience navigating the U.S. mental health system knows what he’s talking about. The sad truth is that — even with the Affordable Care Act — it’s beyond tough just to get any kind of mental health treatment. Even if you recognize your illness and seek treatment, you often face long waiting lists, a patchwork system of laws and regulations that differ from state to state, and enough red tape to tie all your holiday presents for life. But John has a way of making sad truths hysterically funny.

So, watch this, laugh, then demand a sensible mental health plan to go along with a sensible gun control plan. We desperately need them both.


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