After studying social work for the past few years, I have grown to understand the role mental health plays in our society. Yesterday innocent children were murdered at the hands of a young man who we presume has mental health issues. However, the simple truth of mass shootings seems to be characterized by similar characteristics: mental health, gun control, and mass violence. The type of tragedies that occurred in Aurora, Columbine, Casas Adobes, Newtown, and others are systemic. These are not the isolated events they appear to be. The implications of mental health treatment has and will always be extremely important. Our society, must foster an environment that emphasizes the importance of healthy minds. So often we forget about prevention and the hard work it takes for us to stop problems before they happen. We must no longer react to the inevitable. We must make the inevitable disappear. One of the most important ways to prevent these types of events is to focus on inclusion. Studies demonstrate that interpersonal relationships improve the quality of life. We must not ostracize individuals we know or perceive to be at risk for mental health. In my 24 years on this earth, I have seen so many people ignored, outcasts, and criticized because they were “different, weird, or crazy.” Empathy has allowed me to try to include and engage all people I interact with. At times it is extremely difficult, but as social beings, sometimes all we desire is communication, a hug, and a smile. These elements go incredibly far.
If we are not going to focus on gun control, an extremely partisan topic; we must focus on mental health. We can no longer solve the woes of this country with budget cuts to mental health, rehabilitation, education, and child development. These are the basic factors driving the society in which we live. We must transform the way we think. The children we influence grow up to be the people we are. Therefore, what they hear us say and what they see us do becomes apart of who they are and who they will become. We must work to better ourselves in order to better our youth. This will help us improve our future. We have to make this world better for them. It is the only way we can move forward as a society.
We must transform the way we care. Opportunities to learn, to thrive, to live and to love must be at the forefront of our society. As a clinician and a researcher, I implore others to find ways to transform our environments into places of peace and support. We will see the immense changes we cause, the hope that we inspire, and the power of our hearts.