From the NY Times op ed blog: "The recent tragedies in Newtown and elsewhere are especially abhorrent to those of us in the mental health community, particularly since studies have shown that people with mental illness are 12 times more likely to be victims of violence, and no more likely to be violent, if they are not substance abusers.
Nonetheless, horrific acts of violence are inevitably associated with mental illnesses, often because the motivations for them seem unfathomable, and they end up getting sensationalized front page coverage."
We need more money, but we can also redirect money from outmoded approaches into community outreach and support services.
This has led to a wholesale vilification of conditions that 1 in 5 Americans share. That’s the sort of profiling that has been the fate of some racial or religious groups.
One of the things I have learned in the aftermath of the shootings in Newtown is that the media prefers the sensational to the rational, and they prefer the old to the new. I learned only in the last few days that the research on which we are basing our response to mass murders is extremely limited research, as legislation was passed by Congress to limit any projects that might somehow address gun violence issues.
I already knew that while the groundswell of support was to extend background checks, there is no evidence that mental health professionals can predict this kind of horrific event. A well known forensic psychiatrist, Professor Paul Appelbaum of Columbia University, has reiterated this based on his own research.
In other words, even if a shooter is screened or diagnosed, there is little certainty that his caregiver will be able to predict gun violence by a patient.
Before we start profiling anyone with a history of mental illness, let's put the horse back in front of the cart. Let's get the funding of in depth research into the potential causes. Then address the rest of the legislation that is so desperately needed.
Above all, we need to stop and act rationally and not with a "mob mentality." Here is the take of this week's events from a civil rights attorney, Jim Gottstein:
In the rush to pretend to do something, but in the absence of the political will to do anything meaningful about gun violence, a mob mentality has developed to further restrict the rights of people diagnosed with mental illness and force them to endure harmful, counterproductive, psychiatric interventions. In other words, the only thing that all of the players at the table can agree to is, in effect, "Psychiatric Profiling."
New York rushed through a law that expands state and federal criminal databases of people labeled as mentally ill, unconnected to any actual crime or act of violence, and expanded outpatient commitment (forced drugging in the community).
As Gottstein points out, President Obama and Vice President Biden's proposed legislative package includes some of the same "profiling" measures as the NY legislation. Let's get the research done to see if such profiling will benefit anyone, as it certainly will make a class of citizens more stigmatized than ever.