Ten percent of US homicides, he estimates based on an analysis of the relevant studies, are committed by the untreated severely mentally ill—like my schizophrenic cousin. And, he says: "I'm thinking that's a conservative estimate." Schizophrenic. Killer. My Cousin. via Mother Jones
If you talk to mental health professionals, you'll hear almost the same thing every time. Resources are scarce and support is lacking in this country. Not nearly every person who has a form of mental illness will kill but there are some questions of whether the Orlando shooter, as well as previous massacres, had mental illness attributed to the actions of that particular person. It's not uncommon for those will mental illness to exhibit violent behaviors but their violence is more likely to be directed at themselves, more so than others. Either way you slice it, there should be help out there for those seeking treatment for a myriad of mental health issues.
The harsh reality is that this is a pretty large and expansive problem. From our nation's homeless (often untreated with no place to go) and veteran populations (PTSD) to the suicide rates of teens battling depression, there are various angles that you can look at the effects of poor mental health and treatment. A statistic that stuck out to me as the real sign of the problem: Suicide claims the lives of 38,000 Americans per year. Of these 38,000, 90% are related to mental illness. This is more deaths than caused by homicide, prostate cancer and car accidents. Wowzers.
"We have replaced the hospital bed with the jail cell, the homeless shelter and the coffin," says Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Pa., a child psychologist leading an effort to remodel the mental health system. "How is that compassionate?" Cost of Not Caring: Nowhere to Go
So those people that need help, where do they go? Our nation's mental health system is in serious neglect. Since the recession, massive cuts to hospital beds due to budgets and insurance requirements have left many seeking help no place to go. Of all the articles that I read on the issue, one of the things that kept coming up over and over again was that families that wanted to help their loved ones, with no place to take them, were left resorting to calling the police or taking them to the emergency room. "Mental health bed shortages are a national, man-made disaster that people rarely notice until it affects them. We've got patients living in our emergency departments" - Dr. Ray Keller
I urge you to read The Cost of Not Caring: Nowhere to Go. This is a very detailed article on the problems that the country faces in regard to mental illness. It's really a problem that we cannot ignore any longer. It's a health crisis if ever there was one. So I know I talk about action and well, this one is a tough one to act on... but here's a step for you to personally take. Remove the stigma from mental illness. Whether severe, like Schizophrenia or Bi-polar disorder, or more commonplace in your everyday, depression and anxiety. The fact of the matter is that about 1 in 5 adults over the age of 18 suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year. That means, that it's very likely that you know someone suffering from some form of mental illness. Hell, I'll put it out there, I've had issues with anxiety and panic attacks. Am I ashamed of it? Nah, because I have been fortunate enough to have support of family and friends to get me through and have health professionals in my life who were able to help me address problems. Unfortunately, not everyone has this support system in place.
So remove the stigma from your mindset and explain it to those around you. Find out what your state's representatives stand on mental health reform. Some states offer ways that you can show your support. Senator Chris Murphy of CT has an issues page, show your support of those initiatives. Do your research on your reps stances and shoot them an email or call their office. It's of the utmost importance that our lawmakers undo the devolution of the mental health system in our country. This isn't about preventing mass shootings, though you never know, this is about helping real people with real problems, some of which are totally able to be solved.
Other articles you might be interested in:
19 Statistics That Prove Mental Illness is More Prominent Than You Think
Nearly 1 in Five Americans Suffer Mental Illness Each Year
Solutions to Mental Illness in America
Need help? In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.