By: Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO
"This morning, we were awakened to the horror of yet another mass shooting – this time at a nightclub in southern California. It is hard to ignore the shock of such news, and impossible at this early stage to determine the motive of the 28-year-old shooter.
"What we do know is this. The families of the 12 who died and the hundreds who survived will be affected by this event for the rest of their lives. Long after the physical wounds have healed, the trauma will remain. It is critically important that we recognize and understand this and do all that we can to offer the help and support that these individuals, families, and loved ones need.
“We will never know if this tragedy could have been prevented if the killer had received appropriate mental health treatment. But we do know that too often in this country, we wait until Stage 4 to address mental illness. Many people who need treatment for a variety of mental illnesses, including PTSD, cannot get it due to lack of access and affordability – and policymakers force too many to wait until a crisis stage before asking for help.
“It is time we invest in the overall physical and mental well-being of all our citizens – every day. Like other conditions, we can and should address mental health concerns and symptoms early and plan an appropriate course of action on a path towards overall health. Prevention, early identification and intervention are essential to recovery.
“It is past time that we begin to act before crises occur, to prevent them and the horrible sadness they invariably leave in their wake.
“Mental Health America will continue to work for prevention and early intervention services, for integration, for peer-to-peer services, and for all services leading to recovery; for protection of the essential mental health benefits people need; for parity protections; and for choices in care, services, and supports for people with mental health concerns. We sincerely hope that all of our public officials will do the same - and act before they talk.
“MHA also encourages people to use our Online Screening Program and Screening 2 Support (S2S) resources (www.MHAScreening.org) to find help and support. If you or someone you love is feeling overwhelmed by what has happened and needs someone to talk to, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text MHA to 741-741.
"In the coming days and weeks, we hope that we will gain insight into why this kind of violence occurs - seemingly with no reason - and why we seem to be experiencing these violent acts with increasing frequency. Thoughts and prayers are not enough –we have to find ways to prevent these events from occurring."