Al Franken wants Trump to back up promise on mental health

The former Minnesota senator has been drawn into the Florida shooting debate.
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Al Franken has been keeping a low profile since he stepped down as Minnesota senator, with public statements and posts on social media few and far between.

But the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida has prompted him to surface on Saturday, focusing his comments on mental health.

While "it's a mental health problem" has been a commonly-used response to the massacre from those opposed to gun control measures, Franken wants to hold them to their word – among them the president.

In the aftermath of the shooting, President Trump said his administration would "tackle the difficult issue of mental health."

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Franken is critical of Trump not acknowledging the role that the proliferation of "military-grade guns" has to play in mass shootings, but says "he was ... right to mention the issue of mental health."

He goes on to say though that he worries Trump's "rhetoric does not match his actions."

He calls for better mental health resources in schools, including training for all staff members so that they can recognize a child who is struggling.

He cites non-specific examples of schools in Minnesota that have improved their mental health response and removed the stigmatism of mental illness to the point "kids high-five their therapist in the school hallway."

"Mental health in schools was supported in the reform of No Child Left Behind, but at a woefully inadequate level," he says. "If the administration and Congress are serious about mental health, we need to devote more resources to treatment – not fewer resources, as we see in the administration’s latest budget."

Here's his full post.

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