Thursday, 07 July 2011
The New York Times recently released an article about how "Some with Histories of Mental Illness Petition to Get Their Gun Rights Back" by Michael Luo. While reading the article, quite a few points stuck out to me. First, although Mr. Luo makes a correlation between violence and mental illness without trying to restigmatize the idea, there was no mention of how ongoing treatment affects the probability of violence in those who have an illness. The other point that stuck out to me was that there seemed to be an assumption that those who were mentioned in the article did not undergo continuing treatment, but just hospitalizations and a self administered medication regiment (again, just my understanding). What I am even more shocked at, which has more to do with the research findings, is how little of a say the families and friends have when a person petitions to get their gun back.
In a question and answer session with the readers following the article (Q#3), Mr. Luo also briefly addressed how people with mental illness perceive and respond to it, but not fully. If involuntarily committed, individuals with mental illness may or may not perceive they have an illness that needs treatment. For those who do not see it as serious an illness as say brain cancer will of course respond to court officials that they are fine when petitioning for their guns restored. Those with severe mental illness who have a plan could also be competent enough to know what to say to get what they want. Again, what strikes me is how little others are involved in this process and how loose the legislation around the petitions process is in each state. At Families for Depression Awareness, we fully believe that the family and friends around individuals with depressive disorders are integral to the treatment and wellness of the individual. Depressive disorders affect not only the individual, but has a ripple effect on the family, friends, work productivity and other aspects of life so it is a family illness that needs to be addressed as a family. No one can just go through treatments for depressive disorders alone, so until legislators, judges, medical professionals and the public get educated on this concept, there will be holes in the laws governing gun restoration petitions and continued misunderstanding around violence and mental illness.
- Kimberly, Families for Depression Awareness staff