Mental Health Stigma Has Lasting Damaging Effect in the US

After any mass shooting tragedy occurs it surfaces two topics of discussion: gun control and mental health. The Obama administration has made it clear that it seeks reform in regards to the current gun control laws in America and the Republican party actively protects the right to carry and insists that these shootings are a result of lacking an effective mental health. After the recent shooting at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg Oregon that left 10 people dead, many of the Republican candidates responded:

“This isn’t guns, this is about really mental illness.”  (Donald Trump in interview with ABC News)

“Many of these shootings we have people who have mental disturbances.” (Dr. Ben Carson in interview with FOX News)

“Do we need to do a better job in mental health? You bet we do.” (Mike Huckabee on Oregon school shooting in interview with CNN)

These interviews were conducted within days of the shooting in Oregon.

The issue of mental health in regards to gun control has violently hurt the view of mental health in America. Based on studies fewer than 5% of the 120,000 gun related killings were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness. As a matter of fact, it has been shown that it is more likely for people suffering from mental health disorder to be the victims in a shooting. But even if these candidates spoke the truth then why haven’t more efforts been aimed at reducing mental health in the US? Mike Huckabee himself got a grade of D- on mental health care while he was in office in Arkansas.

In 2013 an estimated 43.8 million adults in the US had any mental illness. Furthermore an estimated 10 million had serious mental illness in the past year. With a lack of funding of major mental health prevention organizations the result is that 2,000,000 people suffering from mental illness are put in jail each year. This means there are now more than 10 times the amount of people with mental disturbances in jail then psychiatric treatment.

If the issue of mental health is to be associated with gun violence then America has a lot to answer for by letting this issue flourish.



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