Poll Shows Americans Want More Focus on Mental Health, Not Gun Control

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Mental HealthEvery time a mass shooting occurs at a school or a public facility, it opens up candid discussions about gun control and violence. According to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll released yesterday, 63% of Americans polled (82% of Republicans, 65% of Independents, and 46% of Democrats) believe that mass shootings reflect underlying problems treating people with mental health issues rather than poor gun control laws. The poll was conducted by telephone from October 15 to 18 among a random national sample of just over 1,000 adults.

Just last week, The Washington Post reported that the demand for mental health services is growing nationwide. Approximately 43 million American adults had a diagnosable mental health disorder this past year, but over half of all counties in the U.S. don’t have mental health professionals. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, suggests that these counties “don’t have any access whatsoever” to the care and treatment needed for mental health patients to get better.

Many Americans became eligible for mental healthcare coverage under 2010’s Affordable Care Act, but locating professionals to deliver this care is an issue.

Mental Health America (MHA), a leader in mental health support, suggests more should be done to help all Americans live mentally healthier lives. They have launched the Before Stage 4 (B4Stage4) initiative, which is based on the foundation of early intervention. The campaign urges individuals to address mental health issues when the initial signs of mental illness begin to show, such as unexplained fatigue, feelings of anxiety, or hearing voices.

Mental Health America estimates that when these early warning signs go unacknowledged, it can be as long as 10 years before an accurate diagnosis is given and proper treatment begins. During this time period, the condition of the person can worsen, prolonging the recovery period and raising risk of self-harm or the harming of others.

Sources for Today’s Article:
Hawkins, A., “Poll: 2 Out of 3 Americans Say Focus On Mental Health Not Gun Control,” October 26, 2015; http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/10/26/poll-2-3-americans-say-focus-mental-health-not-gun-control/.
“B4Stage4,” Mental Health America web site; http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/b4stage4, last accessed October 27, 2015.
Sun, L.H., “Why it’s so hard to find a mental health professional,” The Washington Post web site, October 22, 2015; https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2015/10/22/why-its-so-hard-to-find-a-mental-health-professional/.
“Washington Post-ABC News poll, Oct. 15-18, 2015,” The Washington Post web site, http://apps.washingtonpost.com/g/page/politics/washington-post-abc-news-poll-oct-15-18-2015/1852/, last accessed October 27, 2015.
Craighill, P.M., et al., “What Americans blame most for mass shootings (Hint: it’s not gun laws),” The Washington Post web site, October 26, 2015; https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2015/10/26/gun-control-americans-overwhelmingly-blame-mental-health-failures-for-mass-shootings/.