Mental health consumers respond to national conversation on mental health and gun violence

Mental health consumers respond to national conversation on mental health and gun violence

AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - After the mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso, members of Amarillo Area Mental Health Consumers are passionate about setting the record straight about mental health as it relates to violence.

“There’s one study from the University of North Carolina that states that people with mental illness are actually two and a half times more likely to be victims of crime, and exploitation, rape, and so forth. So it’s actually the reverse, This as opposed to what people think,” said Executive Director Tony Foster.

Also known as the Agape Center, all its members have struggled with or continue to have a mental illness.

Foster says by directly associating mental health with mass shooters, it keeps those who battle it everyday from telling others or seeking help.

“We end up seeing people that don’t want to seek treatment. They’re scared, they don’t want to let anybody know because they don’t want their friends and families and so forth thinking that there’s some kind of insidious mass shooter that’s waiting to pop out of the shadows and hurt people,” said Foster.

Other members say it’s discouraging that people associate mental health issues with violence.

“It gets to my heart. Because I’m around a lot of people that have mental illness and I myself have a mental illness. And to know that the nation says all these shootings are caused by people that have mental illness, it bothers me because we’re not like that,” said Center Director Gerri Steele.

They say they’re just like anyone else.

“We have hopes and dreams and fears just like anybody else," said Lead Computer Tech at the Agape Center Glenn Truett.

Texas Panhandle Centers shared with me a report by the National Council for Behavioral Health.

Mental health consumers respond to national conversation on mental health and gun violence (Source: KFDA, National Council for Behavioral Health)
Mental health consumers respond to national conversation on mental health and gun violence (Source: KFDA, National Council for Behavioral Health) (Source: KFDA)

It states that ‘people with serious mental illness are responsible for less than 4 percent of all violence and less than one-third of mass violence’.

The Agape Center is encouraging people to attend events like their 2019 Walk For Mental Health this October.

“Going to these events and getting to know people like us that have major mental illness,” said Foster. “It kind of demystifies all those fears and concerns that are surrounding people that have these issues. Once they get to know us and talk to us, they’ll see we’re just like them just trying to scrape by through life.”

Mental health consumers respond to national conversation on mental health and gun violence (Source: NAMI Panhandle Facebook)
Mental health consumers respond to national conversation on mental health and gun violence (Source: NAMI Panhandle Facebook) (Source: KFDA)

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