If anything positive can come out of the horrific massacre in Newtown, perhaps it will lessen the pain. The two things being spoken of now are increased gun control (assault weapons ban, for example) and mental health care. Mental health is something that is still very stigmatized in this country and I’m really glad its being spoken of, though I’m worried about the connection to violence that people are making.
The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent, and they are more likely to be victims of a violent act than cause one. They are a more vulnerable population and far too many are in jail or homeless than are getting treatment. It’s tragic.
I am a very lucky person regarding this. I have bipolar 2 (though with the new DSM, I believe it will be considered “on the bipolar spectrum”) and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I’ve talked about this online before but try not to worry about people looking at me differently. I figure that if a person judges me for it, they aren’t worth my concern.
As a government employee, I am privy to good mental health care, thanks to the unions that represent most of us. Besides good (physical) medical coverage, I’m also entitled to a certain number of visits to a psychiatrist a year, and many to a psychologist. Medicines are also covered. As a result, I’m able to go to my doctor, get my prescriptions, have therapy if I need, and have a rather productive and happy life, despite my mood swings and anxiety. (Believe me, it’s not as bad as it sounds in my case…there are people with far worse cases than mine. I can’t imagine what they go though.)
I know some other people who aren’t this fortunate however. Their medicine is prohibitively expensive, as are psych visits. Having any sort of illness at any severity (anything from a minor depression to schizophrenia, take your pick) can affect your work performance, ability to form relationships. It can cause people to look at you funny. It can cause potential employers to be wary. And if you can’t get help, you can’t get past that, or even have a good chance to.
Maybe mental illness care won’t prevent most of these mass shootings. But it will prevent a great deal of homelessness, jailing, suicides, and poor health. I want to find a way to help with this. I don’t know how really. But something has to be done – having good care shouldn’t be luck, it should be standard.