As you all know, we had another mass shooting recently, this time close to home. Sadly, these incidents are becoming all too familiar. In the aftermath, questions are asked. Is this a gun issue? Is this a mental health issue? I only have to look at my Facebook feed to know that people are quite passionate about these issues, whatever their stance is. I am not here today to debate one side or the other or to provide solutions to a complex problem. I do want to begin a conversation however, about mental illness and violence. Spoiler alert—mental illness does NOT cause violence. Please inform yourselves, so that you can have the correct information when it comes to the relationship between mental health and violence.
What Americans Believe
Why We Believe It
What are the facts?
Why does it matter?
The next time you hear a report on the news, or have a conversation with a friend on this topic, if you notice that mental health is being blamed, maybe you can let the person know that mental illness does not cause violence. Thank you for doing your part in stopping the stigma surrounding mental health and violence.
Let's face it. We all have fears. One of my biggest is speaking in front of others. As a therapist, I do have great skills of speaking one-on-one and of building rapport quickly. However, if I have to speak in big groups, I am scared. My heart races, my palms get sweaty, and my hands and voice shake. I recently decided that I would like to face this fear, and so I joined Toastmasters. In a few days, I am supposed to give my first prepared speech, the "Icebreaker." I am nervous just preparing it. :) The theme of my speech, which is supposed to tell others about myself, is going to focus on my journey of realizing how similar we all are. Thich Nhat Hanh, one of my favorite authors, said, "We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness." I plan to share how this quote seems to keep coming back to me, through experience after experience. And, in order to help me get through the first speech, I will try to remember to Breathe and Smile, more advice by Thich Nhat Hanh.
What fears do you have? How do you work on addressing those fears?
**Calligraphy Art by Bill Damon.
Amber is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker. She offers counseling for individual adults and clinical supervision for social workers. For fun, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, researching genealogy, reading, and dragon boating.
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