Monday, December 17, 2012

Mental Illness and Violence

Do we need more funding for mental health services in this world?  YES.

Does access to early identification and early intervention programs need to be improved?  YES.

Does having a mental illness mean a person will become violent?  NO.

Does a violent act necessarily indicate that the perpetrator had a mental illness?  NO.  

Does speculating in the media about a person's mental health help anything?  NO.  

All it does is create fear and increase the stigma around people with mental health issues.  This is the opposite of what needs to happen to get people help and care, and does nothing to protect victims of potential future incidents.

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, it will be important to try to unlock the motives of the perpetrator, and discuss how this tragedy may have been prevented.  This will be an important part of the healing process for that community.  But since the gunman is gone, we will never really know the answers.  I hope that all this focus on the availability of mental health services might result in some positive actions.  But as with the lag in changes to gun control despite many mass killings in North America in the past few years, I have sincere doubts that this will happen.

What do you think about the assumptions and discussions about mental health in the news right now?

1 comment:

  1. I think it goes back to the basic human need to know WHY. We feel better about things that make sense. When something happens that seems senseless, we struggle with how to think and feel about it. Ascribing the gunman's actions to mental illness is, I think, a way for people to "make sense" without really understanding. It allows us to say, "Mentally ill people do not think the same way that everyone else does. Therefore, mentally ill people do crazy things that the rest of us will never understand."