For anyone troubled when they hear news about senseless violence, the question often asked is “Why? What would make someone commit such an act?” Whether a mass shootings in a public or private place, domestic violence, gang-related violence, or any act injuring or killing innocent people, there is always the desire to know how it could have happened, as well as how it could have been prevented.
Since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School (and certainly earlier as well), the role of “mental health” in such discussions about the cause of violence is thrown out regularly. The rationale often is that if the mental healthcare system is fixed, and if everyone who needs mental healthcare receives it, violence will decrease. In the real world, however, the relationship between mental health, access to care, and tendency to commit acts of violence is a lot more complex. Mental healthcare, mental health, and mental illness are large concepts that encompass a lot, and oftentimes they are thrown out without a fundamental understanding of what those words really encompass. So at ICHH, we have taken a step back to investigate some fundamental concepts related to mental health, mental illness, and violence. Please take a look at this brief overview that we have created to help inform the public about some relevant ideas to this discussion.