May 20, 2015 is #MHBlogDay. Though people have been sharing positive and important stories and information on Twitter all day, mental health is a topic that deserves this kind of attention everyday. Mental health is a part of everything that we do in our daily lives, and how we engage with the world is a function of how we are feeling on the inside.
When it comes to violence prevention, leaving mental health out of the discussion would be missing the mark. This is why mental health is one of the cornerstones of our organization. We at It Can Happen Here recognize that all solutions to reducing violence must consider mental health as a piece of the puzzle. Efforts that promote mental health creates a ripple effect that then affect how people act, on a general level.
Part of mental health promotion and awareness is recognizing that mental health is not synonymous with mental illness though it is by no means distinct from it; they are related. In the public dialogue about violence, mental illness often enters into the discussion. What we need to realize is that blaming violence on mental illness is misinformed, plain and simple. On the contrary, some aspects of poor mental health (e.g. negative emotions mixed with maladaptive coping behaviors) have been found again and again to be highly associated with multiple types of violence. Thus, mental health professionals strongly recommend strengthening mental health resources and call for more support and availability of relevant programming. It is only by recognizing and addressing the multiple factors that contribute to violence that the likelihood of violence can truly be reduced.
For more on the focus on mental illness as it relates to gun violence, read this article.
Marni Amsellem, Ph.D.
Board Member, It Can Happen Here