Commentary: Early Intervention in Youth Mental Health

Posted by Bebe Smith, MSW, a professor at UNC-CH School of Social Work, on NC Health News site:

I thought this information should be shared as the discussion of the shootings in Connecticut continue. While I do not necessarily agree with her piece in its entirety, I think her statement below is important.

"In the aftermath of these events, people with mental illness, particularly schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, become demons in the eyes of their fellow citizens. This ugly public perception of mental illness affects what happens privately – if a young person with a promising future develops psychosis, we don’t want to believe it. We ignore it or call it something else. And because many have this notion that a person with schizophrenia is equivalent to a monster, the person with psychosis isn’t likely to embrace that label. Denial delays treatment, and the cycle continues."

I know these challenges because I have spent the past 20 years working with people with schizophrenia. I love my clients. They are not monsters. They are your brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. They are part of the human family, with the same hopes and dreams we all have...


Lots of kids are Loners, not all of them become shooters

From an article in the Hartford Courant

"Mental health professionals are not able to predict with any certainty violent acts," Lewis said. "After a tragic incident, people look back in hindsight and believe it should have been easy to foretell what happened. Although school shootings are tragic and have a high magnitude, they're rare, so it's difficult to predict."

Regarding long-term depression, Lewis said, "It is one of the variables that we consider." But she cautions against assuming that any school shooter who plans on being killed or committing suicide is depressed. "They could be really, really mad," she said, or have planned their own deaths as "going out in a blaze of glory..."

A good article with lots of insight. As opposed to the one the News and Observer chose to reprint in today's edition.

Martha Brock