I have to admit that I am sad, heartbroken, angry and more – all at the same time. Again there has been murder with guns in another school in America, the land of guns, guns, guns. I have to admit that I am not really surprised. Owning a gun is considered a god-given right and is legal to carry to schools in certain states in America for reasons of personal safety.
Officially, more that 16% of American youth under the age of 25 are unemployed. That number doesn’t include those who have dropped out of the job search market or have yet to try looking for work in ways that would get them noticed. The myth that America remains the land of dreams where anyone can be a millionaire or become president of the country or the CEO of an organisation in spite of the fact that the “winners” of this American dream accounts for only one percent of the population. We teach our children to dream the dream then abandon them as we break up our homes through divorce or abandon our children to televisions or the latest media babysitters such as smart phones, and game consoles. When we do show up at home, we teach them that drugs and alcohol are our preferred means to numb our own fears and disappointments. We do our best to disguise, to cover up, to mask our feelings, our fears, our desperation. We do not teach our children well. To make matters worse, we disable our schools so that they can’t effectively parent in our stead. We become a nation of neurotics with the occasional psychotic episode erupting such as in Newton, Connecticut on December 14th, 2012.
In 1912, Carl Jung commented that America “will either master its mighty forces or be mastered by them.” Contemporary evidence suggests that we are being mastered by these forces. America has incarcerated more of its population than any other modern western-world country. Violent death by guns and other weapons continue to exceed that of most other countries in the world. And the violence isn’t decreasing. We seem hell bent on imprisoning as many as possible, especially those who are suffering mental illness. No wonder that Jung said that America was a neurotic nation, a nation that must learn to live with its shadow rather than trying to barricade that shadow behind bars or in mental institutions or behind a very lucrative pharmaceutical industry. What little real therapeutic help is available is, for the most part, priced out of the reach of our youth, our minorities and disadvantaged.
Access to mental health care is not a right. Whatever mental health care that is available comes at a very high cost, much higher than the purchase price of a gun. Mental health coverage, when available, is often limited to a small number of sessions with the bulk of help offered in the form of pharmaceuticals. Now, as a mental health professional, there isn’t much I or you can do about the issue of gun control outside of supporting local, Provincial/State or National initiatives, but there is something I/we can do with regards to the issue of access to mental health care. We hold the keys to our practices whether or not we are independent or in an organised practice. We have the skills and the wisdom to help with the underlying mental health factors which sometimes erupt in tragic events. The only question is do we have the will?