For too long we have swept the problems of mental illness under the carpet…and hoped that they would go away.Richard J. Codey
When it was announced that there were 18 school shootings for the year 2018, many dissected just what defines a school shooting, and declared that the stunning number was inflated, when in reality, even one school shooting is too many. What will it take for us to really grasp the fact that something is real, that there is a real mental illness issue in our country and that we need to find a way to treat people who are plagued with it?
In the aftermath of the horrific school shooting that took place in Parkland, Florida by Nikolas Cruz, isn’t it time to finally take a look at the implications of mental illness? So many of us are blaming it on guns and the lack of gun control, and even though this is a contributing factor, what we are really addressing here is mental illness.
The Blame Game
It is easy for us to blame this on the lack of gun control, the parents, the manner of upbringing, video games, or on political unrest. However…
- Mentally healthy people do not shoot children and adolescents at school.
- Mentally healthy people don’t set off bombs at rock concerts.
- Mentally healthy people don’t sexually abuse Olympic athletes.
- Mentally healthy people don’t emotionally, physically or sexually abuse their partners or children.
- Mentally healthy people don’t sexually harass their employees.
This is not to minimize or excuse the actions of those who performed horrific acts. This is instead an opportunity for us to look at what is at the bottom of this so that we can begin to acknowledge that mental illness is real. Then for us to decide as individuals, and as a society, what are we willing to do about it?
A Heavy Stigma for Many
These examples of mentally ill people performing violent and devastating acts are certainly the extreme cases and often the obvious ones. However, in our everyday life there are those of us, and those we love, who suffer with many forms of mental illness that are not always violent, or even recognized.
- Some of us are riddled with anxiety that interferes with our ability to live a life with joy and ease.
- Others of us experience depression, either low-grade, or severe, and anywhere in between.
- Some of us think of suicide on a regular basis as a way out of the emotional pain and many follow through with this action.
- Those who suffer with psychosis and hear voices and experience hallucinations in which we see and hear things that aren’t there.
- There are some of us who have posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a result of serving in a war, being a victim of crime, suffering childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse, or living through a traumatic event such as 9/11.
- Some of us suffer with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which can create havoc within our relationships, our employment, family life and physically.
For my complete article, and more tips on addressing mental illness, please click on the link below.
My wish for you today is that you treat your mental health with as much love and care as you would your physical health and that it enables you to enjoy each day to the fullest.
-Kathleen Dwyer-Blair, LCSW, BCD
Director, Nassau Guidance and Counseling