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Letter: Listen up, NRA: Going universal is the best way to boost our health care

I am not a member of the NRA, though I have guns and like to shoot. Although I usually disagree with the NRA on most political issues, I thoroughly agree with their current effort to focus attention on the country's mental health system, or lack there-of.

Mental health is largely a part of the overall health-care system. If you have health care, you generally have access to mental-health services. If you don't have health care, you are more or less left to fend for yourself.

While I'm a big fan of personal responsibility, denying mental-health treatment to those who require it is bad public policy, as it puts all of us at risk in various ways.

Mental illness is largely a consequence of stress -- physiological or psychological. Everyday normal people who experience great stress can behave in ways that resemble mental illness. They frequently respond quite well to medical intervention.

People with mental illness often have a combination of physiological and psychological stressors that require more long-term treatment, but when provided reliably, it also has a high-success rate.

The breakdown comes when those who are either mentally ill or highly stressed, or both, are unable to access appropriate care.

Many nonprofits do an outstanding job of helping to meet the needs of these individuals and families, but there are many gaps in services and access.

If the NRA is serious about reforming our mental-health care system, it will join me and many others who promote universal health care for all citizens.