We at the Oregon Counseling Association want to express our deepest condolences to the community, families and friends of those killed in these horrendous shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
As we move through the devastation of gun violence in our nation once again, it is inevitable that mental health and issues of access to mental health care will be drawn into the conversation. Often mental health is represented as the largest cause of such violence, when it is in fact often driven by racism, fear and hate. This violence has its roots in white nationalism and the divisiveness of white supremacy--not mental illness.
As mental health professionals, we cannot stand by and allow this to be misrepresented as an issue of mental health. We believe that it is important, especially in times of overwhelming tragedy, that we advocate for those with mental health needs. Individuals with mental illness cannot continue to be the scapegoat for these kinds of hateful acts. The characterization of this violence as a mental health issue will only further stigmatize mental health care and further discourage those who need resources to seek them out. While we recognize that there is a small percentage of violence that stems from issues of mental health, these were deliberate acts of hate and divisiveness. We are clear on where we stand. We must speak out against hate and stand in our determination to advocate for equity and justice.
One of our greatest strengths as a nation is our ability to unite in ways that show our hearts, our strengths, and our deep capacity for compassion. This requires us to have deep conversations about the reality of our country and the misinformation and fear that continues to drive the conversation around gun violence, immigration and terrorism. Such conversations require vulnerability, openness and a willingness to come to the table to discuss how to heal and create change. They require honesty about the roots of racism, white supremacy and fear. They require our best efforts in moving forward. We must take the values that help us in this field out into the world.
The Oregon Counseling Association seeks to support the communities impacted by these horrendous acts of hate and gun violence. For anyone affected by gun violence- we encourage you to seek help. The following resources are available:
Sincerely, on behalf of the ORCA board,
Alana Ogilvie, president