Posted by: RJ the Fire Dog Blogger | May 13, 2014

Mental Health Awareness Month & Link to Active Shooting Incidents

 

 Mental Health corpSince mental illness is no laughing matter, I will abstain from my usual firedog-isms in this post. If you know someone who needs help, please take action.

Since May is the 65th annual National Mental Health Awareness Month, we wanted to devote this week’s blog post to help our readers and subscribers identify mental illness—which is relevant because many active shooter incidents involve perpetrators who may be mentally ill. Medical professionals use the month to reaffirm commitment to understanding mental illness, and urge people who are in need to access treatment and reassure anyone who is struggling to know that they are not alone.
Unfortunately, although much is known about physical health, mental health is often misunderstood. The 2014 May mental health theme is “Mind Your Health,” and is meant to:

  • Build public recognition about the importance of mental health to overall health and wellness.
  • Inform people about the ways that the mind and body interact with each other.
  • Provide tips and tools for taking positive actions to protect mental health and promote whole health.

Facts about Adult Mental Health Illness

  • About 1 in 5 American adults will have a mental health condition in any given year.
  • Only 41 percent of them will receive services.
  • About 10 percent of the American adult population will have a mood disorder, such as depression or bipolar.
  • 18 percent have an anxiety disorder, including post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety, are real, common and treatable.

mental health firedog 2

Responding to the uptrend in mental illness, the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)has supported a number of major initiatives to strengthen the mental health of all Americans:

  • Millions of Americans now have access to affordable health care under the Affordable Care Act. Plans on the Health Insurance Marketplaces are required to cover mental health and substance use disorder services.
  • President Obama announced a comprehensive plan to increase access to mental health treatment and services to support children, families, and communities in response to recent gun violence tragedies.
  • In June, the Obama Administration launched a national conversation about mental health that resulted in over 100 community discussions in cities all across the country. These discussions are designed to increase awareness and reduce the stigma often associated with mental health conditions and make it easier for citizens to access local treatment and services.
  • HHS partnered with the Department of Labor and the Treasury to issue the final rule to implement the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA).  MHPAEA makes it easier for Americans to get the care they need by removing certain limits on insurance coverage for substance use and mental health treatment and services.

According to the FBI, mental illness is a common factor among active shooters. “The FBI’s analysisfound that active shooters were often described as ‘social isolates’ who ‘harbored feelings of hate and anger’ and had some contact with mental health professionals.”

Facts about Active Shooter Incidents:

  • Active-shooter incidents often occur in small- and medium-sized communities where police departments are limited by budget constraints and small workforces.
  • The average active-shooter incident lasts 12 minutes. 37% last less than 5 minutes.
  • Overwhelmingly, the offender is a single shooter (98%), primarily male (97%). In 40 percent of the instances, the active shooters kills themselves.
  • 2% of the shooters bring IEDs as an additional weapon.
  • In 10% of the cases, the shooter stops and walks away.
  • In 20% of the cases, the shooter goes mobile, moving to another location.
  • 43% of the time, the crime is over before police arrive.
  • In 57% of the shootings, an officer arrives while the shooting is still underway.
  • The shooter often stops as soon as he hears or sees law enforcement, sometimes turning his anger or aggression on law enforcement.
  • Patrol officers are most likely responding alone or with a partner. When responding alone, 75% had to take action.
  • A third of those officers who enter the incident alone are shot by the intruder.

Although more studies are needed to firmly establish the link between mental illness and active shooter incidents, it is advisable to prepare for active shooting incidents and also to understand how to identify mental illness in yourself as well as co-workers, employees, tenants, friends and family members.

Here are 10 tools Mental Health America offers to help people achieve wellness:

  1. Connect with others.
  2. Stay positive.
  3. Get physically active.
  4. Help others.
  5. Get enough sleep.
  6. Create joy and satisfaction.
  7. Eat well.
  8. Take care of your spirit.
  9. Deal better with hard times.
  10. Get professional help if you need it.

Agencies interested in active-shooter training, conferences, tabletop exercises, or threat-analysis assistance should contact their local FBI office. Doing so may help counter the threat posed by the active shooter, regardless of whether the active shooter has a history of mental illness. These important educational opportunities may help save civilian lives, as well as the first responders who come to their aid.

When a disaster of any kind strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The RJWestmore Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training-related costs by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

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