Did you know, for example, that Anxiety and Depression are the top two mental illnesses in American Adults? 19.1% for Anxiety and 6.8% for Depression. What are considered the “psychotic” conditions, those in which hallucinations and delusions can occur, are actually in a much smaller percentage. 2.8% for Bipolar Disorder, and 0.45% for Schizophrenia. And rest assured that just because one has Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia does not mean that he or she is more prone to violence then someone without these illnesses.
I am not saying that we don’t need to tend to the mental wellness of our youth, and for that matter, of our adults. I am, however, pointing out, that the actual likelihood that mental illness is the root “cause” of school shootings is like saying that the “root cause of poverty is unemployment.” It is a gross oversimplification of a complex problem. And it does a great disservice to those who struggle with mental illness every day of their lives, and never ever exhibit any inclination toward violence of any kind.
My suggestion is that we learn more about Mental Health and Wellness. Knowledge and facts can be powerful problem solvers. The Fairfield County ADAMH Board offers two courses open to anyone in the community, Mental Health First Aid for Adults, and Mental Health First Aid for adults who interact with Youth. Check out our website for more information: www.fairfieldadam.org.