Expert: Violence not always caused by mental illness
The shootings in Texas and Ohio last weekend have prompted many to question the significance of this trend toward violence in public toward strangers.
Charles Danley, CEO of Grand Lake Mental Health Center, Inc. shared his thoughts with the Examiner-Enterprise during a phone interview Friday.
“I don’t think it’s a mental disorder that causes someone to perpetrate this. Lumping mental illness together results in millions of those with mental illness being subject to stigma rejection, ridicule and in some cases, social control,” Danley said.
He said, there is no easy answer, but in his opinion the shooting trend has causes apart from mental illness.
Violence doesn’t necessarily indicate mental illness although there could be a relationship, Danley said.
“I think that if we look at the root of people and we identify bullying, which leads to isolation, and repressed anger, that situation over a period of time can lead to getting really intensely angry and waiting for the right moment,” he said.
Preventing social isolation is important, Danley said.
“The key is social connection to your peers, to teachers, to student organizations — such as K-Life — which I’m a supporter of,” he said. “I was fortunate that I had a couple of teachers that were helpful to me in those developmental years and in high school. … My peer group was very strong. They were more interested in doing good and being responsible for one another — for our actions — for our behavior.
There were 860 in Danley’s 1966 graduating class at Putnam City High School in Bethany.
He described his class as inclusive and bullying was not cool in his high school. And, socioeconomics wasn’t a factor for him to fit in at school.
“You didn’t have to be rich or poor to be part of the group,” Danley said. “So, if we look at causes, isolation, bullying, non-connectedness with what’s going on in a good and positive way are causes.”
The solutions may be simpler than many realize, he said.
“If we can instill hope, care for each other. There’s an event coming up in the later part of August when all of the community gets together … called Convoy of Hope,” Danley said.
This year’s Convoy of Hope event, sponsored by Spirit Church in Bartlesville will take place at 10 a.m. in Johnstone Park at 200 N. Cherokee Ave. in Bartlesville on Aug. 24.
Danley said mental health affects everyone, in one way or another.
“So, when we see that in our school and in society, we should reach out to the person and help them get the resources in the community. The resources could be Boys and Girls Club, K-Life, sports, church affiliation, it could be a mental health provider if needed,” Danley said. “Doing nothing is unacceptable. A friend may be able to make a difference,” Danley said. “We’re fearful of intrusion or saying something. I think it’s okay to say ‘what’s going on, how can I help.’”
There are services for youth and families in Bartlesville and there is a support group called National Alliance on Mental Illness that provides support. Danley serves on the board of directors of NAMI Washington County.
“NAMI.org is a great resource with local affiliation in Washington County. Mental Health First Aid is also an excellent resource and training you can bring to the community,” he said.
Their website is https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/.
Mental health care providers are required by law to inform law enforcement if a patient makes any threats, Danley said. Yet, people with severe mental illness are responsible for less than 4% of all violence in the United States, he said.
A May 2008 study by Marie E. Rueve, M.D. and Randon S. Welton, M.D. states: “Most patients with stable mental illness do not present an increased risk of violence.” The study found that 21 of 517 psychiatric outpatients (4%) in an urban setting reported a history of homicide attempts.
In determining social development and social responsibility — social connections, friendships and associates are all important, Danley said.
“If you think about your life, there was someone who was good and kind,” he said. “I can’t imagine being socially isolated. It’s not good for us. We are social people.”
His brother gave him a card with a message that Danley said summed up his approach to a solution, “Goodness and kindness is long remembered after everything else is gone.”
“Smiles back and forth make a big difference. A smile goes a long way. It’s universal,” Danley said.
Grand Lake Mental Health has 20 offices in 12 counties in Northeast Oklahoma, including Bartlesville.
The Grand Lake Mental Health Crisis line is 800-722-3611 and website is www.glmhc.net