One of the hot topics in the gun control community is prohibiting people who suffer from mental illnesses from obtaining firearms. Setting aside the fact that such a prohibition is impossible we are still left with the fact that such a prohibition would further discourage people suffering from mental illnesses from seeking help. Mental illness has a major stigma here in the United States. People often perceive others who suffer from a mental illness as weak. There is also a common misconception that mental illnesses are permanent. I’m sure most gun control advocates who are pushing to prohibit people who have a history of mental illness from owning firearms are banking on the latter misconception. In the United States a person who sought treatment for a mental illness would likely become prohibited from owning firearms for life because the general attitude in this country is that mental illnesses can’t be helped.
This leads me to an interesting start up that is focusing on providing teletherapy:
Is the digital age sending the old therapist’s couch the way of the reference librarian, the CD, and the travel agent? Could be: several recent studies have found that therapy via the Internet is just as effective as face-to-face treatment. In 2012, a Veterans Affairs study found that teletherapy reduced patients’ psychiatric hospital admissions by about 25 percent, which means it could produce cost savings as well.
What I find more interesting about the prospects of teletherapy is the potential for anonymity. It would be easy to setup a system where the doctor didn’t know the actual name or face of the person they were treating. While the intimate nature of a patient-therapist relationship would almost guarantee that the therapist could find out the identify of their patient the potential to remain anonymous may be enough to encourage those needing help to seek it. Having an anonymous way of seeking help for a mental illness would render America’s two primary misconceptions irrelevant, which would be a step forward in my opinion.