Monday, May 20, 2024

Mass shootings have affected the psychological conscience of American society, the way we live and how we go out in public places. But the narrative that keeps getting repeated without any truth is that mental illness is the cause of these shootings, and it’s accompanied by hollow calls to provide more funding for such services.

To the politicians saying this: It’s absolute rubbish. The cause of mass shootings has nothing to do with mental illness and everything to do with men – almost exclusively white men – feeling entitled to power, wealth, women and influence and using extreme violence and destruction as a means to achieve that end.

As a former disability commissioner, I can testify that the funding of mental health services rarely happens the way it should. If we truly funded such services, clients receiving services from the state’s Department of Mental Health and Department of Developmental Services would have all their basic needs met, such as a place to live and food on the table – offering relief to parents who must always worry about their children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Agencies would be able to pay their employees a living wage (now more than $35 per hour) to meet their own basic needs as they provide vital services and critical support to their many clients who can’t, without assistance and companionship, support themselves. If we fund Social Security and welfare programs more and develop a less restrictive and punitive system, people with cerebral palsy won’t have their benefits cut unfairly.

The “we need to fund mental health” narrative is an empty promise and an utter lie. Both conservative Republicans and do-nothing Democrats are to blame – but how can an anti-government party that cuts the very support people with disabilities need to survive and live decently suddenly say, “Oh, yeah, we need to fund mental health services”?

Mass shootings are horrific and will continue to happen. To say it’s a “gun issue” or a “mental health” issue misses the larger and more cultural point that no one wants to talk about.

Doug Ross, Huron Avenue