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August 9, 2019
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National Leaders in the Mental Health Aspects
of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities
A note from CSS Clinical Director on recent events

The recent events of violence and hate that have occurred in our country over the last few weeks are tragic and communities have been traumatized. The ripple effects of these acts are felt throughout communities across our country as we try to find ways to respond to the hate that has permeated our country. One unfounded response that has emerged is to blame the violence on mental illness. “Blaming mental illness for the gun violence in our country is simplistic and inaccurate and goes against the scientific evidence currently available,” said APA CEO, Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D. Yet this is what we are hearing from national leaders when in fact, we know that people with disabilities are far more likely to be the victims of violence and crime than they are to perpetuate it.
 
Routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is further stigmatizing an already stigmatized group. Stigma has arisen out of fear and a lack of understanding. It has persisted even with greater knowledge about the biochemical and genetic natures of different conditions. Rhetoric that argues a link between mental illness and the recent horrific events not only further stigmatizes but can also interfere with people getting needed services and treatment. As a START network, we work every day to dispel myths and reduce stigma for people with IDD and co-occurring mental illness.  We will continue in this mission to create more understanding and reduce fear.
 
Our thoughts continue to be with the individuals, families, and communities who have been directly impacted. We especially send our support to the TX START El Paso team who are such an integral part of their community and our START network.


Jill Hinton, PhD
Clinical Director, Center for START Services

Dr. Hinton is a licensed psychologist that has been working in the field for over 30 years to promote understanding and inclusive mental health practices.
Thank you for reading,

The Center for START Services

 
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Institute on Disability at the University of New Hampshire