The horrific mass shooting at Sandy Creek Elementary has rocked our nation and our consciences. Our hearts have all been ripped apart by the stories we have heard. And there is seemingly no end to the analysis of why this may have happened, and if it could have been prevented. Of course people want to do all in their power to help stop such tragic things from happening.
One area that once again is getting massive attention in the news media is mental illness. Obviously, in the days and weeks to come more information will likely come out, and the last thing I want to do is
make blanket statements which will not even apply as more information comes to light. The easy path or many of us is to just read articles and blog posts and wonder about what might have been going on with the shooter and his mental health.
But there’s a more difficult and perhaps more important question: How is your mental health? Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re not utterly going off the deep end, but how many of us have wrestled with bouts of depression, panic attacks, at times crippling anxiety, or even suicidal thoughts? All of this is quite common to the human experience, but the question is… what do we do about it?
Increasingly in our culture, the quick answer is to go see a psychiatrist. While some form of psychotherapy may be recommended, many are likely to be prescribed an anti-depressant to treat, say, suicidal thoughts that are persistent.
But how is that working?
In the past decade, the number of Americans taking anti-depressants has tripled. Tripled.
But are we any happier?
Even more alarmingly, a recent study has shown that anti-depressant use among children, teens, and young adults can actually increase the likelihood the person will commit suicide.
So what about you? If you had to take one of those surveys to decide if you’re depressed, would you qualify? Are you or is someone you know currently taking anti-depressants? Are you getting the results you had hoped for?
For a few weeks, maybe even longer, our culture and our media will be discussing mental heath. Most of us have little control over the culture at large and how they deal with (or ignore) mental illness. I’m sure we all wish there was a pill we could take that would undo the horrible damage done by mass killings like the one at Sandy Creek.
But we are not powerless. We cannot necessarily control the mental health problems of the world or determine that they be fixed. But we can take steps to improve our own mental health. In fact, that’s
the only way our world will become healthier, by each one of us taking small steps and sometimes big ones, each and every day.