Monday, December 17, 2012

Where Do We Go From Here?

As I write, I have on in the background a television news program on which the host and his guests are discussing gun violence, control, and safety. As these well-educated and well-spoken Americans converse about the massacre that took place in Connecticut on Friday as well as the larger issue(s) this kind of violence brings to light, I am only confused. I believe the conversation must include a discussion about the 2nd Amendment, but I am in no way prepared - emotionally, mentally, or intellectually - to participate in such a discussion at this time because I can't find my own footing.

I've also read quite a few opinion pieces about how mass violence in our country can be tied to the absence of faith, spirituality, and God in our schools and/or the "fame" we bestow upon those who commit these heinous crimes. As with the issue of gun control/safety, I am torn.

I do, however, know exactly where I stand on mental illness.

As someone who at one time suffered from a mental health condition (severe postpartum depression, lasting for close to 18 months after Will was born), I strongly believe that decreasing our country's violence epidemic must include - at least to some extent - a change in how we address mental health issues. We MUST raise awareness about mental health conditions and promote mental wellness. We MUST shine a spotlight on the advocacy, education, and services provided by our country's mental health agencies. We MUST make mental health services available to all citizens, and we MUST make it easier and more culturally acceptable to receive help than to spread hurt.

This blog post - composed by a mother of a 13-year-old son with an undiagnosed mental illness - is one of the most important pieces of writing to come across my computer screen in months. Please take a moment to read her story - she simply and clearly illustrates why addressing mental health issues and healing our country go hand in hand.

My heart is breaking for and my thoughts and prayers are with the families of those whose lives were cut short last Friday.  There are simply no words.

On a related note, my sincerest thanks goes out to the police officers and firefighters involved in both the immediate and long-term aftermath of this horrific event, and to the secondary responders - like American Red Cross volunteers - providing support to those on the front lines.

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