We will continue to have mass murders until we change the way we think about mental health. Instead of labels, like crazy, disturbed, suicidal, etc. we need a new mental model and coverage under medical insurance. If we allow 7 or 11 visits per year for chiropractors why can’t we allow the same for therapists, etc. Why can’t mental illness be treated like urinary tract infections, the flu, etc. It all has to do with how we view mental illness. So let’s try this model:
We have all had crap (bad stuff) thrown at us at some time during our lives. Some of us got our glasses (our vison of life) stained with it along the way. When you constantly view the world with crap stained glasses, nothing looks good and our reactions will be directed by what we see. But suppose we could get someone (therapist) to help us clean our glasses (our outlook on life), our world could look wonderful and be so much more satisfying. Maybe some would need chemical glass cleaning (medications) on a daily basis. But the whole idea is to change the distorted vision of ourselves and others, just like cleaning our glasses can improve our vision of the world.
Please understand I’m not advocating “politically correct speech” or societal control of behavior. What I’m advocating is letting people who feel alienated, depressed, or drawn to destructive actions, to discuss the feelings with a therapist as part of their regular medical insurance without stigma. No referrals required.
As it is now, anyone who has a history of mental health visits is viewed as having an incurable disease. It can affect job applications, future political life, friendships, and it alienates people from seeking assistance. But if we could see it as benign as having glasses cleaned, more people in need of counseling might seek it. If it was covered by medical insurance like chiropractic care is covered it would be more obtainable.
If support groups were available like Alcoholics Anonymous, people might help each other stay away from hate groups and thought. How about American Glass Cleaners Associated, or Clear Vision Anonymous, or Anger Anonymous. People have to know there are others like them and it is okay to be different from family members, friends, etc. There is nothing as comforting as knowing someone else has been through what you are going through. We have group therapy, but that is more structured and costs money some might not be able to afford or get into. The beauty of AA is that it is free and available everywhere. You just need to know you have a problem that isn’t any more serious than alcohol addiction and that change is possible. People need a free place to go to say “I’m angry and don’t know why or how to handle it”.
It is up to the rest of us to view mental illness as nothing more serious than the need to have glasses (view of life) cleaned. People who become mass murders are trying to get our attention, to tell us we have failed them. We have. Instead of making it possible for them to get their glasses cleaned, we have turned away from them, avoided them, and made medical help a stigma. We need to change that!
BARBARA SAAD, Escondido