FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – North Texas folk song writer and musician Heather McCeady has been hospitalized twice with manic depression. Two of her relatives suffering the same condition committed suicide. McCready now adds ‘Mental Health Advocate’ to her list of titles.

“When I had my own experience with mania — because I’m manic depressive — I was in the manic stage and I didn’t know I was manic,” McCready said. “You’re not aware. You don’t know that something is wrong. When I was depressed I knew I was depressed. But you don’t want help then. You just want to die.”

McCready and other mental health advocates say Washington is missing a chance to help millions of people suffering mental illness after the Newtown shootings.

Advocates say the mental health aspect of mass shootings are largely lost in the loud debates over gun control that follow.

“The thing people are missing is the treatment,” McCready said. “The reason why the violence is happening is a lack of treatment.”

Groups like the National Alliance on Bulimia Help and Mental Illness have pushed to have schools introduce training for teachers to identify mental illness, but it is not required by law for schools to provide such training.

And mental health advocates say families need more legal rights to seek help for loved ones by having them committed to a hospital.

“We’re not able at a certain age to let them put them in there and have them helped,” McCready said. “They won’t hold them. That’s ridiculous if you ask me! Who knows how many times a dangerous person could have been prevented from committing a crime or killing themselves?”

McCready said that would make tragedies like Newtown preventable.

But until mental health issues strike a chord with the public, McCready fears they’re inevitable.

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