There is a severe epidemic in this country: fear of our mental health systems.
I have addressed this issue before, as it goes hand-in-hand with gun control. However, there is more to the mental health care system than deciding who is fit to bear arms. It is vital for this country, above all else, to make sure we are raising and keeping healthy, well-adjusted citizens.
Over the past week, the nation was shocked by a school shooting in Spark City, Nev. A 12-year-old boy killed a popular teacher, shot and wounded two of his classmates and then took his own life. When things like this happen, the cameras turn to the parents, and they turn to bullying, but they never turn to society.
Every child gets bullied — yes, some more than others — but there isn’t a shooting for every kid who faces torment walking the halls. What we are missing is a safety net to catch the kids who may react in violence, and coddling is not the answer. At a young age, we need to be teaching that bullying is both wrong and almost inescapable. There must be education on how to take care of your mental health, just as we teach kids to brush their teeth. There must be screenings, at all ages, to diagnose where help needs to be given, just like we check for scoliosis.
Allowing children to grow up knowing that mental health is just as important as eating their vegetables and participating in gym class will help them grow up through healthy adolescence. Bullying, molestation and other traumas are not the boogeyman. We cannot just go on telling children that these things do not exist.
However, we are not done with the population once they get through their adolescence. Our country must offer mental health screenings to all of its citizens just like there are ways for women to get free mammograms. We must speak out against the perceived shame that comes with mental illness or counseling.
There are cesspools of mental illness all over this country and it is our failed systems of government that created them. Our prison system turns minor offenders into hardened criminals. Our wars send soldiers back home without adequate help when they need it. Our rape culture shames survivors of heinous crimes. This is simply unacceptable.
I am not saying every offender comes out worse or that all brave soldiers come back in need, but if there is a system that is meant to help, it must do so.
Until our country can teach the masses, of all ages, about mental health care, and until we can end the ridiculous notion of shame that comes along with seeking adequate and complete medical care, we will continue to be unstable as a society.
We will continue to see children, who should be playing and laughing, committing adult crimes and taking their own lives when they have only just begun to live. We will continue to see struggles with addictions, and we will continue to see depravity. There is no way to make the world a perfect place, but until our mental health system is improved, we will make no headway to solve any of our true problems.
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