THE FINAL SHOT – MENTAL ILLNESS

DECEMBER 11TH, 2015

A USA TODAY story out yesterday said, “At a time of heightened concern over police shootings, a new report estimates that people with mental illness are 16 times more likely than others to be killed by police.”

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Why is this? The problem is a lack of treatment for those with mental illness, and I also think a lack of training of law enforcement to recognize it. Mental illness is still something that carries a stigma. People, in general, don’t want to talk about it. For years now, the main thing driving the conversation about mental health has been the mass shootings. People are arguing that mental illness is the reason behind the mass shootings.

Now, a new study out from the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center is saying that about one-in-four fatal police encounters involve someone with mental illness. This study is moving beyond saying that not just those who decide to shoot others in a mass shooting have some mental illness, but that many victims of shooting by law enforcement may also have mental health issues that made them do something illegal that got them killed.

I agree, and this is why we need more dialogue and more solutions on how to help those with mental illness. There are over 8 million people in the United States who have a mental disorder that can alter their thinking and perception of the world around them. From paranoid syndromes to fear, loneliness and anger there are plenty of emotions, disturbances of judgement and other issues that are associated with mental illness that can cause a person to act out or sometimes simply not understand laws or social constructs. And, the disorders themselves ranging from bipolar disorder to schizophrenia to various personality and substance abuse disorders that increase vulnerability often go undiagnosed. For many, even if they are diagnosed, some just stop taking their medications and other forms of treatment.

So what’s the answer? Well, I think that Mayor de Blasio and #ThriveNYC is a start. I believe that having a dialogue and trying to develop programs that can help those suffering from mental illness is a good place to start. Look, people with mental illness are no more violent than others. A better understanding by all will help many to seek and get the help they need. America has to embrace this conversation before change can ever really take hold.

Join me on Facebook and let’s have a conversation about this. Ideas and change come from collaborative thinking and open discussion.

LINKS
“I Called the Police for Help, Not to Kill My Son”
Groups call on Congress to reform mental health system

DISCLAIMER
Information contained in this blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical or psychiatric advice for individual conditions or treatment and does not substitute for a medical or psychiatric examination. A psychiatrist must make a determination about any treatment or prescription. Dr. Paul does not assume any responsibility or risk for the use of any information contained within this blog.

Originally available here