Thank You, John Oliver. And I apologize.

Wow. John Oliver just summed up the problems with our mental health system in 11 minutes and 54 seconds – with plenty of room for punchlines as well. I know – seems like something that isn’t humorous. But this segment provides more respect for mental health issues than so many others I’ve seen. Well-placed humor can do that.

Watch it here:

His opening statement, like all the facts in this comedy-in-truth piece, is correct:

“It seems there is nothing like a mass shooting to suddenly spark political interest in mental health.”

Guilty as charged. My last post was, yes, sparked by yet another act of violence that I suspected would eventually point back to an unaddressed mental health problem in the shooter (and lack of support for his family). After receiving 2 comments which were too extreme to approve, I almost deleted the post today. It seems to have sparked stigma and judgment instead of the empathy and constructive outrage I had hoped to inspire.  But I will let it remain in this thread, because while I myself may have jumped the gun on “judging” this shooter with expectations that attention should have been paid to his mental health way before a crisis, I also know that such judgment harms people like my son, who lives in fear that people will find out he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. (for the record, his name and identifiable facts have been changed in the book and in my posts, with his permission to tell the story that way)

So let’s be reminded of the following facts, in Rolling Stone’s coverage of the segment:

“The aftermath of a mass shooting might actually be the worst time to talk about mental health,” he argues. “Because, for the record, the vast majority of mentally ill people are non-violent. And the vast majority of gun violence is committed by non-mentally ill people.” The host cites a February 2015 report by the American Journal of Public Health, which states that “fewer than 5 percent of the 120,000 gun-related killings … were perpetrated by people diagnosed with mental illness.”

Yes. Let’s not stigmatize those with mental health issues every time a crime like this occurs. But also, yes. Let’s pay attention to our broken system – and fix it. Segments like John’s, factual as well as (weird but wonderfully true) entertaining, point the way.

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