Truth is I really don't plan on talking about gun control, gun rights, far right and far left theories. I am squarely in the middle. I am a democrat who fully understands the 2nd Amendment and am all for legal, common sense laws. But...I can understand the anger at an executive order when the 1st two years in office he could have pushed some of this through w/a Democratic Congress or should have tried harder.
But again, not really the topic.
I want to talk about the "Funding" portion for Mental Health. I don't even want to really talk about the "funding" but more the looseness with this assumption that "crazy" people need to be protected from guns. Then I want to examine what this "means." Let's start off with this.
"one study that found that fewer than 5 percent of 120,000 gun-related killings were committed by people diagnosed with mental illness." That comprehensive study was done by Vanderbilt University researchers Jonathan Metzl and Kenneth MacLeish, who analyzed data and literature linking guns and mental illness over 40 years. The researchers concluded that it's not the stereotypical "violent madman," the young, white, angry male, whom we need to fear."
IT GOES ON TO SAY
We should set our gun policies based on the everyday shootings, not the sensational shootings," Metzl said. "The mentally ill across the board are 60 percent to 120 percent more likely than the average person to be the victims of violent crime, not the perpetrators. People with severe mental illness often are homeless or talking to themselves, odd in a certain kind of way, and they become targets. We need to pay much more attention to mental health systems. How do people get care? Do they have health insurance, is there follow-up, is there medication available to them?"
Suicide. This is a key point often brought up by those preaching gun control. Approx 60-70% of all gun deaths are suicides.
So.....take away their access to guns and that helps? Really? Really? Who actually believes that someone suicidal say's, "Well shit I can't get a gun guess I'll just keep living" Maybe a very small amount but c'mon, really?
The arguments against the belief that the Mentally Ill are a danger could take up pages but I really want to focus on the methodology.
Answer this. How do we decide? Who decides? Do we require anyone that wants a gun to see a Psychiatrist first? Do we pour through the official diagnosis list and pick which ones can't own a gun? What if a Therapist and a Psychiatrist disagree on the diagnosis? Can you ever get off this list?
Let's take me as an example. 18 months ago you would be hard pressed to find anyone that knew me say "he shouldn't have a gun." Meanwhile for 44 years I have been silently (mostly) battling a serious personality disorder. Highly stigmatized, high rates of suicides and self harm. Borderline Personality is nasty.
But I am not. Of the 9 traits I carry 8 of them, strongly. Just not suicide/self harm (Well...other than being a Cubs fan) I neither own nor desire owning a gun. BUT I also dream of living off grid one day and in the remote parts of our country I would want a gun. Protection, hunting, etc....
Who decides? What is the criteria? Will it work?
No- it will not work. Why? Because violence, self harm, all the nasty parts of our disorder(s) are dwarfed compared to the stigma we face. Just saying in a gun control debate that you are "throwing money at MH" is stigmatizing.
Until we change the stigma nothing changes. Until society quits asking us "what can we do for you" instead of "what can we learn from you" then stigma will remain. My 12 year old put it best. I asked her why she liked her new therapist. She said
"Because she doesn't feel sorry for me, she wants to help me and that is what I want, help...not pity"
I spent the first 4 years of my professional career working for a male impotence company pre-Viagra. So I understand stigma. I understand the need for compassion and understanding.
This understanding allowed me to be promoted twice in three years, into a Sr. management position w/out a college degree. Now we see Viagra/Cialis/etc... commercials in prime time. It's understood that the aging process and poor circulation play a major role.
Mostly we helped create the relationship between men not diagnosed w/a medical condition and impotence. We uncovered countless diabetics, the occasional brain tumor. We saved lives when a guy simply needed a boner. We did so by creating a safe place.
If you want to fight stigma, it must be done in a safe place. If you want to understand our disease than talk to us, not about us or heaven forbid "above us". Don't make silly assumptions.
Foolishly throwing money at something you do not understand is silly. Most counties have a MH Center that can and do see people on a sliding scale. Even if that were not the case....if you enhance the stigma the people will not seek treatment
If we can not make going to see a Psych. as normal as any other specialty then there really is no hope. We can not and should not make gross assumptions about Mental Health anymore than we would calling all cancer just Cancer. There's more to it than that but its also as simple as creating a safe place and safe way to seek help.