Presentation Title: Principle 4: Violence and Mental Health Services

Abstract: The fourth principle of the policy is that approaches that stigmatize mental illness and attribute to persons with serious mental illness a disproportionate degree of gun violence towards others are not based in research and are counterproductive. Rather, timely access to adequate mental health services should be broadly available, especially to persons in acute crisis who may pose a substantive risk of gun violence to themselves or others. The policy supports funding a readily accessible continuum of mental health services that include crisis services and affirms that psychologists who provide health and mental health services need adequate training to assist people in crisis. The policy calls for APA to advocate for measures to minimize stigma or misuse of data. The policy also calls for the systematic evaluation of any databases of persons with mental illnesses used to regulate gun purchases or possession by persons with mental illnesses, including potential unintended consequences of use of databases such as deterring persons from accessing needed mental health care. Further the policy calls for APA to support measures to inform public opinion regarding research about SMI or other mental disorders. The information should include the higher rates of suicide than homicide and the association of suicide with depression, substance abuse, and SMI; the relative rarity of mass shooting homicides and the very tenuous association of notorious mass shootings with SMI despite media accounts; and rates of injury and death associated from accidental and intentional discharge of firearms. The APA endorses measures to communicate with mass media outlets about the relative risks of firearm violence including support for accurate characterizations of the relationships among acute emotional disturbance, the role of substance use, involvement in criminal activities, and other factors that may be associated with relative risks for firearm violence.

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