In Defense of Mental Health
This past week I was contacted by a Greenwood High School student reporting on school safety for their newspaper. She sought my opinions about mental illness within the high school population and my thoughts about the Parkland shooting. My first thoughts were, I’m exhausted from a week of seeing clients in my private practice and I don’t have the time, nor do I possess the mental sharpness to deal with this. Then I thought, but it’s for a high school newspaper. I called her.
I do have thoughts about the Parkland shooting and the whole issue of safety in our schools. For one, I am angry. I am angry that we, as a civilized and free society, are squabbling amongst our adult selves while we neglect the wellbeing of our youth. I’m angry that it has taken so many acts of violence to get our attention. I’m angry that mental health in our children is not being properly addressed. I’m angry that our government officials allow the pressure of lobbyists, and the need to prostitute themselves for campaign money and votes, to outweigh the safety of our children. I didn’t tell her this, but sometimes I think American adults, who pride ourselves in caring for our children, need to be turned over to Child Protective Services for neglect.
Obviously, school violence is a flashpoint phenomenon for which there is no easy, one-answer fix. We adults have decisions to make regarding the personal freedom and the right to bear arms versus knowing we have done everything within our power regarding school safety. We must examine when the safety of our kids outweighs free enterprise and the right to make money. We must look at how the lack of understanding and acceptance affects those with mental illness. We must use what we know about brain development of the adolescent and the complexity of maturing to counsel students. We must look at social media and mass communication, the organization of the school itself and how it affects the deterioration of human connectedness, a basic human need. Mostly, we need to look at the lack of compassion for our fellow human beings.
While all these topics are of great concern to me and I support the current dialogue and hope it does not diminish, the discussion of mental illness is most disturbing to me. Public shaming and referring to people who suffer from mental illness as “crazy,” will not help! People who suffer from mental illness need understanding, kindness, and compassion. We all need education. Mental health care needs an overhaul. Our schools need psychological services. Funding. Yes, we need funding for mental health in our country.
I could go on and on, but I’ll stop. I guess the most promising thing I’ve seen on my computer screen this week is the fact that our local high school students are asking how they can help. I’ll close with the final sentence I wrote for our young reporter.
“My generation hasn’t done so well with this. Maybe yours will do better. I have faith in you.”
Interested in more accurate information on this topic? I direct you to these two websites: