Press Releases | California Therapists Caution Against Blaming Mental Health Illness for Gun Violence

California Therapists Caution Against Blaming Mental Health Illness for Gun Violence

CAMFT issues a public statement to caution against naming mental illness as the primary cause of gun violence and mass shootings.  Although mental health care resources should be improved and supported in California and throughout the country, naming mental illness as the cause for violence is stigmatizing and unhelpful.

For Immediate Release: August 15, 2019
California Therapists Caution Against Blaming Mental Illness for Gun Violence

The California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) shares our deepest heartbreak for those affected by the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton and the multiple mass tragedies that have occurred throughout the country. We recognize that so many of our communities in the United States are struggling with complex issues regarding safety and well-being for all. These issues are complicated and divisive, and our nation’s leaders are eager to find solutions.

CAMFT cautions government leaders, media outlets, and Americans against claiming that gun violence is caused by mental illness. “Pointing to mental illness as the only cause for these tragic episodes oversimplifies – and even disregards – much of the research into mass violence over the last several decades. Blaming the mentally ill does not result in effective solutions, it further stigmatizes mental health issues,” says Katie Vernoy, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and President of CAMFT.

Increasing mental health services is a necessity for a healthy and functioning population, but that step alone will not result in the elimination of mass shootings or gun violence. “Mental health issues are common everywhere in the world, and yet the number of violent deaths by shooting are far less common in the majority of other developed countries,” says CAMFT Executive Director Nabil El-Ghoroury, PhD, CAE. “We applaud leaders who call for increased funding for mental health services, but we reiterate that focusing solely on mental health as the root cause of mass shootings is misguided.”

Mass shootings result in profound trauma for those directly hurt, for those who witness the violence, for our local communities and for the nation as a whole. To effect meaningful policy, legislative and societal change, CAMFT calls upon this administration, congress and local governments to convene specialists from all aspects of this crisis including second amendment and gun control parties, mental health and public health experts, law enforcement, education and community leaders, in order to create meaningful conversation and collaborative change. CAMFT offers our expertise and time in helping to solve this crisis.

About the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists
CAMFT is an independent professional organization representing the interests of over 32,000 Marriage and Family Therapists who are experts in diagnosing and treating mental health issues. CAMFT is dedicated to promoting mental health, advancing the MFT profession, maintaining high standards of professional ethics and expanding awareness for the profession of mental health therapists.