Experts: Schools need more resources to monitor mental health

(WMC) - President Donald Trump suggested 19-year-old suspected shooter Nikolas Cruz's mental illness led him to unleash a murderous attack with an assault rifle.

It also reignited a dialogue about mental health awareness in the country. Cruz received brief mental health therapy.

Although school officials, students, and others who knew Cruz were aware that something was off, it is unclear whether anyone had a full picture of what was building within him.

A day after Cruz confessed to carrying out one of the nation's deadliest school shootings, a more complete portrait emerged of the suspect.

Investigators revealed he was a loner who had worked at a dollar store, joined the school's ROTC program, and posted photos of weapons on Instagram.

Katy Leech is a counselor, primarily working with children in the Mid-South. She said the warning signs were there of a child in need of help.

"Mental health is incredibly important and we are seeing it become an epidemic in our country, particularly in our children," Leech said.

Leech said we must teach children to speak up and report behavior that seems off or potentially dangerous.

"It is their job to speak up to teachers and school administrators and report what is going on," Leech said. "It's not tattling, but it's keeping themselves safe and that person safe so there can be early intervention."

Parents must also look for those changes in their own kids, like changes in behavior, mood, and violent or suicidal statements or acts.

Leech said the education starts at home but must continue at school.

"I think schools need more resources," Leech said. "I think schools should be doing mental health education. They should be teaching the kids what to look for and what to look for in themselves."

Those tools and education could potentially prevent another deadly tragedy at school.

Copyright 2018 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.