Archive for September, 2013


In the past several years, there have been quite a few cases on unexpected gun violence, leading people to ask the question, why? How can we prevent this?

Of course, gun policy is one of the first few things to be addressed. Debates ensue, and solutions to ensure that guns end up only in the hands of responsible owners are proposed. After some conversation about gun control, the topic of discussion turns to mental health. All of a sudden, people who have had no prior experience, directly or indirectly, with anything related to mental health, prop up and suggest screenings and other forms of detecting mental illness in people before its too late. Unfortunately, “too late” to them only means the point at which individuals with mental disorders will commit acts of violence. Hopefully they do know that most people with mental illness are nonviolent and never cause harm.

With all this rah-rah of popular mental health talks after shootings, people begin to support the impovement of our national mental healthcare system. They think about what our country can do for those who suffer from psychiatric disorders, and at this point they seem like the most compassionate people in the world.

And then…boom. The mental health conversation is over and there are no more shootings for a period of time, so people occupy themselves with the next hot topic in popular politics. By the way, the mental health issues haven’t been resolved. These people who seemed ever so conscious of the suffering of mental health patients now care more for other things. No shooting means no need to take care of mental health problems in our country. Great.

As stated before, most people with mental illness are not perpetrators of violence. In fact, they are more likely to be the victims of violence. It is understandable that people want safety for themselves and their loved ones from shootings. Nobody wants their children to be in the situation of those shot during the Sandy Hook incident last winter. But for many people, the only time they actually see mental illness as a real issue is at the times of these shootings. It is as if suffering from schizophrenia is not significant enough to be treated if the patient has no violent tendencies. Its like saying, we dont care about your delusions in which you think the CIA is running after you. As long as you aren’t going to shoot us, its fine.

Mental health reform and support should be an ongoing effort. It is upsetting to see that only after a massive shooting does our country talk about mental health as a large issue. It is as if those suffering in silence from things like depression, especially during a time when there is no national discussion of mental health, don’t matter. As long as they don’t shoot anybody. Bummer.