Separating disease from criminal activity
The Uvalde shooter had no known mental health history, but whenever something like this happens, it’s a question people find it natural to ask.
While Dr. Mary Aitkin has pointed out that this crime is out of the ordinary, mental illness is not.
“There are a lot of people with mental illnesses and the vast majority of them are more likely to be the victim of a crime than to commit a crime,” said Dr. Mary Aitken, Chief Medical Officer of Children’s Memorial Hermann. Hospital.
Jamie Freeny of Mental Health America said some behavioral issues are mistaken for mental illness when in reality they are a cry for help.
“They’re expressing it, they’re showing it on social media, and I think we could better proactively address some of those needs, proactively connecting them with resources, with therapists, proactively destigmatizing mental illness and emotional disorders and helping parents, encouraging parents to reach out when they see signs and symptoms and encouraging these help-seeking behaviors in students,” Freeny said.
She added that families struggling with food, clothing and mobility could miss these signs and symptoms.
“They’re trying to just focus on meeting their day-to-day needs so that some of those other red flags and warnings go out the window,” Freeny said.
Dr. Aitken said discussing any concerns with your primary care physician can open the door to getting more resources. It can also be the first step towards connecting with an advisor.
“Many of us will need advice or help at some point in our lives,” Dr. Aitken said. “Make it okay to admit this and seek help so we can hopefully avoid long-term consequences.”
Simply reading and watching accounts of what happens in Uvalde puts people (including children) at risk of secondary trauma.
Dr. Aitken recommends avoiding this, you limit your children’s media consumption. For very young children, she says, this should be as little as possible, if any.
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