Once again, Americans are grappling with the shock and horror of a mass shooting at an elementary school. The tragedy in Uvalde, Texas, in which 19 children died, is horrifying. But this is not unimaginable despite the statements of many politicians. In fact, at the beginning of June, there have been 33 additional mass shootings across the country since the Uvalde tragedy. Still, the scale of the violence in Uvalde and the youth of the victims has left many looking for both an explanation and a solution incredibly shaken.
In the aftermath of this school shooting, many have tried to link the tragedy to the country’s mental health care crisis. In the decades since Columbine, pundits and politicians have proposed many explanations for school shootings, from violent video games to rap music. But nowadays people are more likely to attribute mental illness to these heinous acts of violence.
Although there may be a correlation, there is no proven causality between mental illnesses and gun violence, much less school or mass shootings. According to the National Institutes of Health, “Most people with serious mental illnesses are never violentIn addition, researchers at Columbia University found that Only 8 percent of the mass shooters had a serious mental illness. The tendency to blame mass shootings on serious mental illness is understandable, but ultimately harmful. it does little but stigmatizing and harming individuals with these diagnoses,
However, in the same Columbia University study, researchers found that mass shooters were more likely to have nonspecific psychological or neurological symptoms than the general public. The public faces serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or mental disorders, with violence and mass shootings. Still, evidence indicates that serious mental illnesses have been overemphasized and not enough attention to how less serious mental health issues contribute to gun violence when they go undetected and untreated. .
Mental health has more than just mentioned serious disorders Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5th Edition (DSM-5,, Key Diagnostic Tool and Authority published by the American Psychiatric Association. Individuals, even if they do not meet the DSM-5 criteria for mental illness, can deal with trauma, lack of closure, depression, anxiety, loneliness and more. These normal, human experiences and feelings can worsen over time if left unresolved. Without healthy, effective coping skills, sufferers may turn to maladaptive ways to manage their emotions. Some may even turn to sickening fantasies about violence. A small portion may eventually act on those violent fantasies in a distorted attempt to shut down or find relief from their symptoms.
The US does not require any more DSM-5 diagnosis, hospitalization or intensive care modalities. We need better access to simple, everyday mental health care It is important to prevent suffering, interpersonal violence and even mass shootings. We should do more to help people who are struggling to manage intense emotions or deal with traumatic experiences.
Access to basic mental health care in this country is reprehensible. Most people do not seek mental health treatment until they are at the point of crisis – if they are to seek treatment. Still, early mental health screening and basic interventions will do much to reduce symptoms, stress, and suffering. Fortunately, these interventions are not complicated, controversial, or expensive. We need pediatricians and primary care doctors to ask patients about their mental health and screen for mental health care needs. Talk therapy and skill building interventions should be cheaper and more accessible. Basic psychoeducation should be taught in government schools.
Much of the debate about how to stop mass shootings is malicious and highly politicized. Basic gun control rules will likely help reduce gun violence, but given the political landscape, these policies are unlikely to pass. Instead, let us focus on possible solutions to gun violence that are simple, effective, and will positively impact many aspects of American life. We can prevent and reduce violence and suffering across the United States by increasing access to basic mental health care for all Americans.
Dr. Tamir Aldad is a fellowship trained addiction psychiatrist and the founder and CEO of brain careAward winning Psychological Urgent Care Award for the first time in the United States. Dr. Aldad holds an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and has completed residency and fellowship training at Northwell Health after graduating medical school. He also did many years of applied health research as a medical scientist at the Yale School of Medicine. She is passionate about acute mental health issues, improving public mental health and access to affordable care.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author My.