We find ourselves as a country again at the place where the reactions to a tragedy – this time a mass shooting at a Buffalo, NY grocery store – fill our waking hours. We continue the routine of wringing our hands, vocalizing prayers and condolences, repeating rhetoric about the mental health status of the shooter, noting system breakdowns, engaging in presidential and other political leader visits, listening to media pundits spinning their version of what happened, hearing calls for gun and ammunition regulation, and on and on and on. Most of us also feel overwhelmed and helpless because it seems the routine never changes, and nothing substantial happens after each of these despicable acts occur.
Like many of the others, this one seems to have been motivated by racially motivated targeting of African Americans. It also appears to be driven by some outrageous conspiracy theories involving the perceived planned elimination of white people in this country. It seems that hate, prejudice, and false, uncorrected, and unaddressed misinformation combine their despicable characteristics yet again to produce inconceivable tragedy.
This issue of The Ally focuses on mental health, so we can indeed use our voices to advocate for and support reforms in our mental health systems. Yes, we do need more funding and more treatment programs, but that will never be enough! It will never be enough because it is NOT just a mental health problem, and we cannot allow it to be glossed over as such.
I believe we face issues in this country, state, and city that are much more complex than the quantity, quality, and reform of mental health programs/systems. In my opinion we face huge issues of long-term systemic racism, fear of differences and change, pandering and self-absorbed political leaders, unbridled and unchecked access to weapons, and other social,
political , and technological factors that disconnect us from one another. Until we take these things seriously as a country, we will continue to see these events happening – and we’ll continue to offer up the same tired, tedious set of responses.
If these comments sound harsh, it is because I believe it is time for us to be harsh in our reactions. Human life and our commitment to each other are sacred – it is time we treat them as such and demand that our leadership, friends, neighbors, and ourselves appropriately address the real issues.
Each May, the National Council for Mental Wellbeing joins a national movement to bring attention to mental health during Mental Health Awareness Month (MHAM). Here is some helpful information about mental health in America: Facts & Figures 1 in 6 adolescents (aged 12-17) in the U.S. experienced a major depressive episode in 2020 1 in 3 […]
Mental health, what does it mean to you? May is Mental Health Awareness Month. When we think of mental health, we automatically think of mental illness, but those are two fundamentally different things. Mental illness refers to our health condition involving changes in emotion, thinking, or behavior. The best way to know if you or […]
Mental Health is Public Health The COVID 19 pandemic did a great deal to illuminate why mental health should no longer be the “silent pandemic.” The organization United for Global Mental Health conducted a survey early during the pandemic, which found that anxiety and depression were higher among young adults, women, and people with risk factors […]