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June 01, 1999 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1999-06-01

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, June 1, 1999
Edited and managed by EmILy ACHENBAUNI NICK WOOMER
students at the Editor in Chief Editorial Page Editor
University of Michigan
W~p U 111 nless ofther-wise noted. unsigned editorials reflect the op>inion o~f .
g 420 Maynard Street majority of the Daih's editorial board. A11 other articles. lettersrand
Ann Arbor, M I48109 cartoonsdo not tecessarill reflect the opinion of Theic 1hogan Dail:

I n the wake of the school shootings at
Columbine High School in Littleton,
Colo. and Heritage High School in
Conyers Ga., the nation's collective
introspection over the last few weeks has
yielded plenty of theories about who or
what is to blame for the startling rise in
the deadliness of modern youth vio-
lence. Earlier this month Congress
proved that the federal government can
take effective measures against youth
violence - first by passing tough new
gun control legislation, and then by
reviving a program to expand mental
health services in the nation's public ele-
mentary schools. The idea is hardly rev-
olutionary -- several area school dis-
tricts have already implemented sucess-
ful programs placing social workers and
psychologists with young children.
It should not be startling news that
great benefits can be gained from such
programs. Last October, at a White House
conference on school safety, one of the

Elementary answer
Social workers can prevent friture violence

biggest complaints by educators from
school districts where shootings had
occurred was the lack of psychological
services for students. Last Monday, many
of the pediatricians, psychologists and
human development experts on a.youth
violence panel sponsored by the National
Research Council concluded that psycho-
logical services in elementary schools
could prove to be the most effective solu-
tion to curb violence by youngsters.
Local school districts like West
Bloomfield have long understood the
necessity of having a social worker oper-
ating in every elementary school. The
district has focused the efforts of its
social workers on activities that involve
the entire school, but not at the expense

of giving special attention to the children
who need it'- both bullies and the bul-
lied receive counseling in the district. -
Some social workers in Clinton
Township have found that children feel
more at ease discussing certain issues
with district psychologists rather than
their own parents. While some parents
might be inclined to be wary of having
their children confide in government
employees, they ought to realize that it
makes sense to give children as many
outlets as possible to express their feel-
ings.
Outside observers may be able to spot
troubled children before their parents can
- parents may not be able to spot the
symptoms of a troubled child or, even if it

is obvious the child needs help, parents
may delude themselves into thinking that
their child is perfectly happy and well
adjusted. The unwillingness of many
insurance companies to cover the cost of
mental health services only adds to t*
inclination in many parents to dismiss
signs of possible future delinquency as
the results of "the blues"or a "phase."
The combination of troubled children
and firearms has proven to result in
tragedy. Stricter restrictions on firearms
can take guns out of the disastrous equa-
tion, but ultimately such restrictions will
merely render many delinquents less
deadly. School districts across the nation
would do well to follow the example
the Detroit-area school districts thW
have already committed themselves to
the early observation and counseling of
troubled youngsters. The best way to
address the problem of youth violence is
to attack the root of the problem -
delinquency itself.

Well covered
Mental health services should be insured

Staying on top
Life Sciences Institute aids'U' reputation

T his week, Tipper Gore, who is head-
ing a White House conference on
mental health next month, announced
that the Clinton administration intends
to require that health insurance plans for
federal employees offer coverage for
severe mental illnesses in addition to the
coverage already in place for workers'
physical ailments.
Gore hopes that health insurance
providers covering the private sector
will eventually implement this new plan
as well, improving the mental health of
all Americans and reducing the stigma
associated with mental illness.
Gore's efforts to bring health cover-
age for mental illnesses to the majority
of Americans is laudable. Currently,
most insurance plans do not cover men-
tal health services such as therapy, med-
ication, or hospital visits, forcing indi-
viduals to pay hundreds or thousands of
dollars of their own money to treat ill-
nesses that can be just as debilitating,
both professionally and personally, as
any long-term physical ailment.
Oftentimes, those plans that do offer
coverage for psychological services set
stringent limits on the number of visits
that people can have with their mental
health care providers. Those who have
any mental health care insurance are
also usually charged significant
deductibles and co-pays, making it diffi-
cult, if not impossible, for the majority
of Americans to get treated for mental
ailments.
Under Gore's plan, the annual cost of
the improved coverage would only rise 3
percent more a year - a negligible
increase considering the positive bene-
fits the additional coverage will have on
employees' lives, as well as their jobs.

Hopefully, the new plan will set a stan-
dard that will be met by privately
insured customers, eventually leading to
better mental health care coverage for all
Americans.
The potential influence Gore's pro-
posal could have on the private sector's
health care coverage is perhaps the
greatest benefit of the plan.
Medical science has proven that sim-
ple chemical imbalances in the brain can
play a significant role in mental illness,
but there is a pervasive disdain for the
mentally ill in the United States. In the
same way that a broken arm needs to be
reset, these imbalances must be
addressed by the medical establishment
through therapy, drugs and often a com-
bination of both. Americans do not
ridicule people who need surgery to
repair organs, but people who need
treatment for mental illnesses are often
stigmatized.
Gore recently revealed that she once
needed therapy to deal with depression
after her son was seriously injured in a
car accident in 1989. Perhaps her revela-
tion will give Americans an appreciation
for the pervasiveness of mental illness.
Any attempt by the federal govern-
ment to promote a shift in the attitudes
of Americans, and especially insurance
companies, should be applauded. The
nation's insurance companies can no
longer ignore the necessity of covering
mental health services. Individuals'
mental well being is just as important as
their physical well being. Gore's propos-
al has the potential to reverse the stigma
against the mentally ill as well. The
commonly held attitudes towards the
mentally ill have caused far too many
Americans to suffer needlessly.

The opportunity to improve the
University's standing in the field of
life science - a long-neglected field at
the University - has finally arrived
after the Board of Regents approved ini-
tial proposals for the construction of the
Life Science Institute. The institute is
projected to cost about $200 million and
was proposed when University President
Lee Bollinger took office. The
University should be praised for its
efforts to quickly turn this initiative into
reality. The University must ensure that
the institute is constructed as soon as
possible in order to provide greater ben-
efits for students and faculty.
Under the initial designs presented by
Philadelphia-based firm Venturi, Scott
Brown and Associates to the Board of
Regents, the LSI will be located at the
Palmer Drive site across from Palmer
Field. The location will fill an area
between the Central and Medical
Campuses that currently is not in use,
and transform it into one that will great-
ly benefit the University. In doing so, it
will bridge the long-standing gap within
the central campus and create a connec-
tion with the medical campus.
Currently, many universities are
focusing their attention on the field of
life science - a trend that can not be
ignored. Among one of the key issues in
the field of life science are such vital
projects such as the mapping of human
genes to complete the picture of the
human body. The LSI will enable the
University to be at the forefront of cut-
ting-edge research projects with other
institutions.
When the LSI opens, it will allow for
interdisciplinary studies combining the
fields of humanities, sciences, social

sciences and the arts together, crossing
traditional boundaries between college
disciplines. With the LSI, undergraduate
students will not be limited to a single
field, but will have the opportunity to
explore multiple disciplines. One of the
goals of the LSI is to bridge the gap
between undergraduate and gradu
students. This will allow undergraduate
to gain an understanding of different
disciplines before committing to the
field that they wish to concentrate in. As
part of the LSI, there will also be the
addition of a new living learning pro-
gram located at the Couzens Residence
Hall.
The LSI will provide the opportunity
for the collaboration of efforts with d'
ferent departments into various researc,
fields such as neuroscience, genomics
and structural and chemical biology.
This will allow research to go even fur-
ther and be more efficient beyond the
efforts a single department. The LSI
could also help the University attract top
researchers in their respective fields -
an important gain since the University
lost many high level geneticists in the
early '90s to rival research centers. As a
result, the University will increase.1
depth in the field of life science throug
the institute and will open opportunities
for research partnerships with other uni-
versities such as Wayne State and
Michigan State University. Connections
with related industries are also a likely
possibility.
The University is one of the top
research institutions in the nation. With
the LSI it will further enhance its repo
tation and put the University into the
forefront in a field that the traditionally
has been overlooked.

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