LIMA — At Wednesday’s mayor’s press conference, Lima Mayor David Berger threw his support behind one specific aspect of Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed legislation surrounding gun violence.
Berger said he believes an increase in mental health resources is one of the best ways to get the ball rolling on the issue.
“The problem is that there simply aren’t enough beds and resources to do the kind of mental health assessments that really need to happen in order to determine fundamentally the disability that person has.”
Lima has just one mental health inpatient facility with Mercy Health-St. Rita’s Medical Center. There are several options for outpatient care.
Even when there is room at inpatient mental health centers, Berger pointed out that patients are often quickly discharged, leaving longer-term treatment options at their expense.
“The proposal encompasses a major increase in the amount of resources being spent in communities large and small throughout — mental health services where both professionals needed to do those assessments, as well as the treatment facilities that would be needed, are put in place,” Berger said.
By properly being able to diagnose those with mental health issues, Berger said it will help determine who should have the ability to possess guns.
“(This legislation) will allow the sort of assessment by mental health professionals to determine if they are disabled,” he explained. “If they are determined to be disabled, they are not under existing law able to keep their weapons. Their weapons will either have to be taken by family or taken by the police. They will once again have the opportunity to have their guns at the point at which they are no longer disabled.”
Berger acknowledged these changes will require money and time.
“This is an important step forward. It is not, in some ways, particularly when we get to the issue of background checks, this is short of what I think many of us would like to see, but it is not insignificant,” he said. “I think what the governor, lieutenant governor and others have done is an important way of adding to the tools that communities and families will have to be able to deal with these issues.”
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.