Nightly News   |  December 10, 2013

Biden touts $100 million to improve mental health services

On Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden hosted a meeting with some of the families of those lost to gun violence, as he announced new funding for mental health care. NBC’s Kate Snow reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> back home in the u.s. this saturday will mark one year since the awful school shooting in newtown , connecticut. since then, there has been growing attention given to a link in some cases between violence and mental illness . today, vice president joe biden joined with newtown families who have been pleading for more help along these lines, and some of them spoke with our nbc national correspondent, kate snow .

>> reporter: the government shutdown for a snow day , but for the newtown event, a meeting with vice president joe biden was too important to miss.

>> the guidance over mental illness has been lacking for a long time. and we really need to change the focus to understand how to prevent violence and mental illness , as opposed to reacting to it.

>> reporter: the two started a foundation dedicated to brain research. for decades, critics have declared there is a huge gap for millions of americans who need health care and access to that health care . state budgets were slashed by the billions, but since the tragedy at newtown , at least 37 states have increased spending on mental illness programs, today, the federal government stepped up with vice president joe biden announcing $100 million to help establish behavioral health services and to improve mental health access in rural areas.

>> this is a very important step, we have a long way to go. it is a drop in the ocean. but it is progress.

>> reporter: a report released two weeks ago reported that adam lanza had significant mental health issues, what way this contributed to the shootings is unknown. one woman says she believes what happened at sandy hook might have been prevented with better mental health care.

>> the whole tragedy started with an angry thought in adam's head. he didn't have the tools to know how to handle it.

>> reporter: starting conversations is one of the ways these families want america to honor their children.

>> it starts within our home and within our communities.

>> reporter: so many newtown families told me they hope this is just the beginning, politically, mental health care may be easier to change than gun laws but they also would like to see change there, too, despite all the calls for change since newtown , it is worth noting there have been 16 more school shootings since then. brian?