Separating Violence And Mental Illness - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Separating Violence And Mental Illness

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In Friday Mental Health: It Matters. Just because someone has a mental illness does not mean they're violent. That's coming from a local psychologist after publicity surrounding the mental struggles of Wednesday's shooter in Fort Hood, Texas who opened fire and killed several people and injured 16.

Reports say the gunman was going through treatment for psychiatric issues, but are the two related?? 

"There's not a direct connection and it shouldn't be assumed that someone's violence is a result of their mental illness." says Dr. Margo Norton with the Fargo VA Mental Health Services.

Dr. Norton is a Psychologist and works with veterans daily. She has seen it all from depression, to adjustment disorder to post traumatic stress disorder.

"We routinely do screening and more in-depth assessments." Dr. Norton explains.

She says it's paramount to keep the topics of violence and mental health separate.

That's because research shows mentally ill people are far more likely be victims than commit a criminal act. In fact, only 2.5% of people with a mental illness, who did commit a violent act, did so in a public area.

Psychologist say understanding this is vital in erasing the stigma of this struggle.  

"Here at the VA we're trying to outreach and get better at bringing them in and offering them services and support." Dr. Norton says.

That outreach spreads far across North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota, helping soldiers focus on living a better life. A life without fearing that others will think they're violent if they're diagnosed with a mental illness. 

It's never been easier to get a Vet the help they need. Now all they have to do is step into the nearest satellite clinic provided by the VA, and get hooked up on the Tele-medicine machine which then connects them to a psychologist.

"We believe it and we've seen the people who've had the benefit from it and are living much much more satisfying lives, lives of recovery." Dr. Norton says.

The CDC reports that one in every four people are living with a mental illness. So if you or a loved one needs help we have some mental health resources.

For the Veterans Crisis Line call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1. Confidential chat on VeteransCrisisLine.net

Imagine Thriving - www.ImagineThriving.org

American Foundation of Suicide Prevention - http://www.afsp.org/

Stephanie Goetz Mental Wellness Initiative - www.goetzinitiative.org 

FirstLink & the 211 Hotline - http://www.myfirstlink.org/211.shtml
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