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Shooting Shows Embarrassing State of Mental Healthcare

James Holmes Court Room Photo
Getty Images News

The Aurora theater shooting has rocked the country, scared people into not wanting to do something as simple as watch a movie, and amped up the gun control/Second Amendment debate yet again.

At the very least, it should shed a light on the shameful state of mental healthcare in this country.

Obviously something is not right in head of alleged killer James Holmes.

It is clear from the photo of his court appearance this morning that he was attempting to look like The Joker from the Batman movies. When first taken into police custody after the shooting, he even originally identified himself as The Joker.

Watching this morning’s footage, Holmes appeared to be dazed, falling asleep, and generally ‘out of it.’

There has been speculation that drugs caused the rampage, which left 12 dead and more than 50 injured.

There should be more focus on how someone with clear mental issues never got any kind of medical help that he obviously needed.

What do I know?

As someone who has suffered from depression, seemingly the most common of mental health problems, but a problem nonetheless, I’m more than aware of the stigma of mental health issues and the difficulty in finding help.

For those who have never experienced it, it can be easy to say, ‘Snap out of it.’ Believe me, if it were that easy, the majority of people would. No one wants to live a life with depression (let alone a severe psychotic condition). It can ruin relationships, careers, and lives.

It can also feel impossible to seek help. First is the task of even figuring out who to call. Do you Google “psychologist”?

Once you find a list of doctors or therapists in your area, you then have to find one accepting new patients, choose amongst who is left, and if, like me at the time, you have no health insurance, prepare to pay a ridiculous amount of money.

Even with insurance, the costs are ludicrous. At one point I was on a medication that cost $120 a month — that’s WITH insurance. (I was 23, working only part time jobs. I did NOT have that kind of money.) Luckily I was able to switch to something more affordable that worked just as well, but not everyone has that luxury.

My case was pretty mild and over the course of several years, I was able to get the help I needed, change my life in ways to make my depression manageable, and wean off of the medication (a nightmare all on it’s own).

For someone battling far more serious problems, like severe anxiety, schizophrenia, personality disorders, etc., there are precious few resources.

It is time for people to stop being embarrassed about mental health issues, and to accept help, even if they aren’t sure they need it.

If you are a parent, and you notice your child isn’t ‘acting right’, don’t try to ignore it because you don’t want to feel like a failure as a parent. (What will the neighbors think if my Timmy sees a therapist??)

Stop worrying about what other people might think and start worrying about helping your child. Sometimes it requires a professional, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s also nothing wrong with you as a parent.

Think of it this way, if your child had an ear infection, you wouldn’t be embarrassed to tell your doctor, would you? You wouldn’t think of yourself as a bad parent for THAT, right? No. A mental illness should be thought of the same way.

As for making it easier to access the care some of us need, I don’t know how to improve that. I know that the first step is the hardest. Talk to your family, your friends, or your doctor. Know that help is available — you might just have to work to get it, but it is out there.

Maybe it’s one way to keep a tragedy like this from happening again.

If you or someone you know is thinking about harming themself or others, please do not hesitate to call 911. It could save a life.

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