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Scapegoating Mental Health Issues for Mass Shootings, and Other News

Police cars and ambulances on street with yellow crime scene tape across area The October 1 shooting that killed 58 people and wounded 489 was the 1,516th American mass shooting in 1,735 days. In the wake of mass shootings and other violent tragedies, there are inevitably calls for better mental health care. Quality, affordable mental health care remains out of reach for many Americans, and although increasing access is indeed a widespread goal, better mental health care may not be the solution to the issue of mass shootings.

Stephen Paddock, the man who opened fire at a country music festival in Las Vegas, had no known mental health diagnosis. Paddock shares this fact in common with most mass shootersResearch has shown that people with mental health diagnoses are more likely to be victims of violence, not perpetrators. Blaming mental health conditions for mass shootings contributes to the stigmatization of mental health issues and might even deter treatment.

A paper published in 2014 linked binge drinking, a history of child abuse, and being male to violence. Research suggested these factors were more likely to correlate with gun violence than a mental health diagnosis. A 2014 study of convicted murderers in Indiana further found that just 18% had a serious mental health condition. In the general population, the annual rate of mental health diagnoses is also about 18%. Despite this data, most people continue to believe mental health issues are a factor in mass shootings.

Because stigma may deter people from seeking treatment, false beliefs about a link between mental health and violence may serve as barriers to mental health care.

Mental Health Concerns in Aftermath of Puerto Rico Hurricane

More than two weeks after Hurricane Maria, many Puerto Ricans still lack power, clean drinking water, medical care, and other basic necessities. The death toll includes at least two suicides. The rates of trauma, suicide, depression, and other mental health concerns may rise as people become more desperate. Because many areas have been decimated, survivors may not have access to mental health care for months. Some may never receive it.

Earlier School Start Times May Increase Risk of Adolescent Depression and Anxiety

When adolescents begin school before 8:30 a.m., they are more likely to experience anxiety or depression, according to a new study. The study, which followed 197 students between the ages of 14 and 17, found that even students with good sleep hygiene had a higher average of depression and anxiety symptoms on a daily basis when they had earlier school start times. Researchers believe the link is likely due to decreased sleep quality.

For Children With Severe Anxiety, Drugs Plus Therapy Help Best

Children with the most severe symptoms of anxiety are less likely to get better when they receive just therapy or just medication, according to new research. The study found that a combination of therapy and medication worked best to help kids manage their symptoms and recommended prompt treatment for childhood anxiety.

Psychology Study Finds Liberty Goes Hand in Hand With Religion—Including Islam

According to three studies on religion and oppression, there is no clear link between religion and freedom. Non-religious countries are some of the least and most oppressive nations. Though some highly religious nations were also highly oppressive, other factors better explained this correlation.

Sports-Related Concussion Symptoms Linger Twice as Long for Adolescent Girls

Teen girls who experience a concussion—sometimes called a mild traumatic brain injury—experience symptoms twice as long as their male peers, according to a study that compared 110 male athletes aged 11-18 to 102 female athletes in the same age range. Symptoms resolved within three weeks for 75% of boys, but for just 42% of girls. Researchers believe this discrepancy may be due, in part, to symptom overlap from undiagnosed conditions such as migraines, depression, and anxiety.

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  • Stephanie

    October 9th, 2017 at 11:47 AM

    It sort of ticks me off when they talk about these serial killers who have mental health issues . I feel like that lumps everyone together who has ever struggled with mental illness and it is not fair to those of us who have also been dealt this blow and yet and have never taken any of that out on another person.

  • Reg

    October 10th, 2017 at 10:54 AM

    Don’t you just feel terrible for the people of PR, who are living without power and water and it seems that no one in the govt wants to step up and help them recover? What a sad reality so many of our fellow US citizens are now facing. I am ashamed that they are not getting the same kind of help that other Americans have received after natural disasters. Why are they not entitled to the same things? And why are more people here on the mainland not outraged at their predicament?

  • Warren

    October 12th, 2017 at 8:48 AM

    Why would anyone ever think that an earlier start for school could ever increase student performance?
    I think that it has been indicated and proven over and over again that especially for adolescents and teens a later start time is the one thing that can greatly improve how well they learn.
    Teens need their sleep and most of the time it isn’t about them being lazy, they just truly need that much extra rest for them to be the most successful.
    I think that now is the time for more school districts to take this into account.

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