National Organization of People with Psychiatric Diagnoses Calls for Dialogue in Response to Navy Yard Tragedy

Sep 26, 2013, 10:27 ET from National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery

WASHINGTON, Sept. 26, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery (NCMHR) grieves the tragic loss of life resulting from the shootings at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., on September 16. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families who lost loved ones," said NCMHR director Lauren Spiro.

While the facts about the psychiatric history of the shooter, Aaron Alexis, are still emerging, public debate is once again focused on the connection between mental health challenges and violence. Yet studies indicate that mental health issues alone are not statistically related to violence, and that people with serious mental illnesses are far more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than the perpetrators.

NCMHR urges Americans not to scapegoat Americans with mental health challenges in attempts to end mass violence in our country. "Lawmakers' focus on mental health record reporting is not going to make us safer," said Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., an NCMHR board member who himself recovered from schizophrenia. "What is called for is to address the problem of gun violence directly, while simultaneously advocating for a quality health and mental health system where no one falls through the cracks and people can access support before they reach the crisis point."

"It is now more important than ever, in the wake of this horrible tragedy, to come together as a community, and dialogue for change," said Iden McCollum, executive director of the Campbell Center in Washington, DC, a peer-run agency for individuals living with mental health and substance abuse/addiction issues. "Mass violence in our country is everyone's problem. The best way to create safer communities is to listen and to learn from one another, and to generate creative solutions together."

In the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy, President Barack Obama launched a series of National Dialogues aimed at improving the well-being of young people and building healthier, more resilient communities. NCMHR member organizations have been involved in organizing many of these community events, which will go on throughout fall 2013 and into winter 2014. NCMHR will organize a large-scale dialogue, scheduled to take place in Howard University in Washington, D.C. on December 12, featuring people with lived experiences of mental health recovery, as well as mental health providers and administrators.

Contact: Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., 1-877-246-9058

SOURCE National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery