Mental Health for the Children of America (by Lindsey Brown)


Introduction:

My question for this writing is “Why isn’t mental health more talked about when it comes to children?” I researched mental health in children, and also explored violent acts as a result of untreated mental health in our society. With the school shootings we see in the news, and the bullying we are always talking about gun control when I believe the bigger picture is mental health in America and how it’s being treated in our youth. The reason I chose this topic is because of my goals in life. I am going to school to get my associates in criminal justice and I believe that this isn’t just about locking up “bad” people. This is about getting to the root cause of what triggers crime in America. The research I did taught me a lot about what we are doing in America, with health care and whether we are spreading the word on mental health. It did shed a light on the recent changes, but I still don’t feel enough is being done.

The Research:

The research question I plan to explore is along the lines of “Why is mental health not more talked about?” What I am trying to explore is why we as a society so against looking at this, especially with children. Something that interests me the most within this research is the more recent school shootings we have experienced in America and how a lot of these children had mental illness but instead of focusing on their mental health, we look at gun control. I believe the bigger issue is mental health and I believe if parents, teachers, etc., were more aware of these things than maybe these violent acts could have been stopped. I guess the one issue I’m having is really formulating my question around that and wording it correctly. I feel like once I do that, I can focus my writing better.

I think the type of writing I plan to do is a letter. I think this needs to be seen by a politician so that it can be dealt with from higher up and dispersed to the society that way.

Kliff, Sarah, “Seven Facts about America’s Mental Health-Care System”, Washington Post, December 17th, 2012, Internet, November 17, 2014, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2012/12/17/seven-facts-about-americas-mental-health-care-system

I chose this source as a way to get a good grasp on how mental health care is for people with mental health care issues. It relates to my paper in a good way because there are good solid facts about what is going on in the world with this type of stuff.

Huysman, James, “It’s Time to bring Mental Illness Out of the Shadows”, Psychology Today, February 14, 2013, Internet, November 15th, 2014 http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/life-in-the-recovery-room/201302/its-time-bring-mental-illness-out-the-shadows

The reason I chose this source is because I believe mental health needs to be more spoken about. It’s what my whole purpose for this paper is. It talks about bi-polar and depression and how it can hurt our society. I like that it talks about the bigger picture. That someone could have some depression, but mix that with other factors and that’s when tragedy can strike, whether it be suicide or homicide, etc.

Paula Lavis. “Mental Health and Young Offenders.” Dictionary of Youth Justice. Devon: Willan Publishing, 2008. Credo Reference. Web. 18 November 2014.

The reason I chose this source is because my letter is focused on the topic of children. I believe mental health needs to start while we’re young. It also touches on crime, which is a big part of why I’m writing this paper. I believe whole heartedly a lot of our youth act out in criminal acts because of some kind of untreated mental illness.

Manfred van Dulmen, Jeff Kretschmar, Mark Singer, Daniel Flannery, and Lara Belliston. “Exposure to Violence, Mental Health, and Behavior.” The Cambridge Handbook of Violent Behavior and Aggression. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007. Credo Reference. Web. 18 November 2014.

I used this source because it looks at my topic a little differently. That violence could lead to mental health issues which could lead to violent acts. I may not go in this direction with my final project, but I thought it had some good facts and it was interesting to see another point of view.

The Public Writing

To whom it may concern,

I am writing today to speak about mental health in America. More specifically, the mental health of our children in America. I believe with the recent school shootings our society has endured, that this is something that needs to be addressed and talked about much more than it already is.

In the past 50 years, times have changed drastically within the mental health field. In the 1960’s, we were institutionalizing people with mental illness and then slowly moved away from that to outpatient services and medication. But is this really working? In an article I read, Doris A. Fuller of the Treatment Advocacy Center explain, “But in the decades since, the sickest patients have begun turning up in jails and homeless shelters with a frequency that mirrors that of the late 1800s. “We’re protecting civil liberties at the expense of health and safety…Deinstitutionalization has gone way too far (Washington Post).” By mentioning this quote, I don’t mean to say that we need to start institutionalizing people with mental health problems, what I mean to explain is that we’ve gone way too far to the other side. We have ignored the issue to the point of wiping it away with medication and an attitude of ignoring the issue. At least when people were institutionalized, there was some sort of proactive treatment happening. I think we need to look at how something like this starts and then we can find a solution to this problem.

The Dictionary of Youth Justice explains another huge factor of this problem in our society. It explains, “The problems for young offenders are multidimensional, and tackling them is not easy or simple. For the population generally, there is a lot of stigma surrounding mental health, and mental health services are often considered inappropriate or inaccessible to young people. So young people may not want to access mental health services, and potentially either do not or cannot access services until they become so ill that they need more specialist treatment, are ‘sectioned’ under the mental health legislation or, in some cases, end up in the youth justice system (Youth Justice).” This can be arrested by spreading the word on mental health. By destigmatizing what mental health is and given a deeper meaning to parents, teachers and even campaigns to children so that may have a better understand. This is about spreading the word so that everyone can work together in making society a better place.

I believe the problem starts at home. No matter how the mental health disorder was acquired, hereditarily or otherwise, the arresting of and solution of this problem can be dealt with by the family first and foremost. When the family is more aware of their children and the lives their children are living, I believe that child has more of a chance of living a more normal, healthy life, without allowing their mental health get in the way. But in order for families, schools, and adults of the world to know about these issues, we need to spread the word on what mental health is and what can be done about it.

I do not have children, yet. But I see this society in America struggling with violence in kids and teens everywhere. I see us focusing so much on gun control and keep guns out of America, which is against the constitution. I believe this isn’t about gun control so much as about mental health. You hear it all the time, guns don’t kill people, people kill people and I believe that wholeheartedly.

I think what needs to happen is a large mental health campaign. It needs to be directed at adults, but easy enough for kids and teens to understand. Awareness is the issue that needs to be addressed immediately. Schools need to be trained more on what mental health is and the resources that are available to help children. Parents need to become aware of what signs to look for. And the help needs to be more accessible and affordable. I believe with this type of information spread around America, we can all become a more healthy society.

Sincerely,

Lindsey Brown

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2 comments

  1. Zach Ashman

    Lindsey –

    You chose a pretty complicated subject to try and address in a short letter. I commend you for wanting to take on the subject of mental health and the youth. I share your opinion that school shootings aren’t so much a gun problem, as a mental health problem. I try to address the mental health aspect every time I see somebody pushing for the outright ban on guns as the main solution to our growing epidemic of mass shootings. Taking away guns may be part of the solution, but it’s my opinion that without addressing the growing mental health issue that affects citizens of all ages, it isn’t going to solve the problem to why individuals snap and feel the need to kill people around them.

    Overall I liked your piece. It is defiantly a very important subject that needs to be addressed for the betterment of our society. I think you could benefit from some additional editing though. I noticed a couple sentences here and there that need a little more work. This is just my opinion, but I also thought you could move the paragraph that starts with “I do not have children, yet.” up and have it go after the first paragraph. It seemed to flow better to me that way.

    I wish this assignment wasn’t about critiquing your writing and was more of a discussion instead because I have some strong opinions about this issue. Thanks for sharing and I wish you luck with your pursuit in criminal justice. We need more people in law enforcement that care about addressing mental health in better ways than just incarceration.

  2. Himanandini Mohanty

    I liked your topic. It is an interesting one. Your research would have been very vigorous as these topics are not very much discussed however it is a concern area that needs to be addressed. I am deeply touched that you brought up such an issue. Your stand is valid and to the point. The write up is very polite and formal.

    I feel you can work on organizing and sequencing your ideas although your piece is very informative. I thoroughly enjoyed your write up. Great work

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