Another month, another massacre. Mass shootings are becoming so common in the U. S. that we can scarcely remember the latest perpetrator or the facts of the latest incident. The perpetrators, the incidents, the victims become jumbled in our minds.
Let’s leave gun control aside for the moment and discuss mental health. When Vester Flanagan was fired from one of the TV stations for which he worked as a TV journalist, he went home and killed his two cats. One of his 3 suicide notes, found after he murdered a TV journalist and a cameraman, blamed his ex-employer for the death of his cats. Elliot Rodger shot and killed 6 people and injured 14 others because he couldn’t get a date.
Whenever there’s another mass killing and someone asks me, “Why do you think he did it?” I say, “Because the phone rang. Who knows?” Their reasons for killing people, many of whom never knew or harmed the perpetrators, are nonsense.
I believe the state of mental healthcare in the United States is ridiculous. We treat mental healthcare on a crisis basis: when a person explodes with anger and hurts himself or someone else; when someone is so depressed that he hurts himself or someone else; when there is a crisis, and then we might act.
Why isn’t mental health treated like physical health in the United States? Over the years, we have seen that preventive healthcare, like exercise and health eating and regular checkups and mammograms, help prevent or detect illness. Why isn’t mental health treated the same way?
Imagine what would happen if mental health was given the same importance as physical health. Rather than stigmatizing mental illness and its treatments, we would make mental healthcare a positive thing: we would see mental healthcare professionals while we are mentally well in order to stay mentally well; and people with mental illnesses would be more readily detected and helped.
I believe that would make a difference, reducing the number of mass shootings by mentally ill people. How will that happen? Good question. Right now, America is far from the point of treating mental health as an important aspect of overall health. It would take major changes in education about mental health, funding for mental health, attitudes about mental health. It would take a lot but I think the change would be worth the effort.
A video on mental healthcare preventive measures is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYkD4IX72bE If you can endure the morose music, then the corny music and the video clips from the 1960s, the rest of the video is interesting.
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