Lately there have been many issues discussed relating to the gun violence debate that our nation has been having. One of these issues has been mental illness. While I believe it is good for us as a country to look at how we treat our mentally ill, I do worry that discussing the mentally ill in the context of gun violence will perpetuate the stereotype of the mentally ill being violent.
Mental illness is a disease that will affect 1 in 4 Americans this year. It can range from serious disorders to mild depression. Most of us will experience some form of mental illness during our lives. Citizens who suffer from mental illness are no more likely to be violent than the general public and are far more likely to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator.
If you know someone who suffers from mental illness, please be an advocate and help them find treatment. Many forms of mental illness are treatable and after treatments many people go on to live productive and fulfilling lives. There also are treatment options available for people with low incomes and the uninsured. Some resources in Homer include: Division of Youth and Family Services, Refuge Chapel, Cook Inlet Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, South Peninsula Behavioral Health, Haven House and Alcoholics Anonymous. Links to more local resources can be found by visiting www.pop411.org.
With the talk going on and on, I want to remind everyone that we can take action against violence starting today. We can all do our part by being better parents, neighbors, friends and community members. Take a moment and reach out to someone having a tough time and show compassion. These small acts of kindness affect people in big ways, and we can all benefit from that.