From political speeches to media reports, concerns about protecting children in our schools have been at the forefront of public concern. Teenage mental health has been identified as a culprit in mass shootings in the United States. The shooter is often portrayed as “a loner”, “deeply troubled”, or intimidated by his peers. Under the recently signed bipartisan Safter Community Act, one of the goals is to increase funding for mental health services and training.
Yet will providing more quality and quantity mental health resources address the possibility of a future school shooting? While public mental health and school resources are desperately underfunded, psychiatric counseling and care can only be effective when a relationship of trust and volunteerism is developed between clinicians and young people.
For example, will a young man share his thoughts and feelings with a mental health professional about his propensity for violence towards others? In short, do they have an interest in personal change? Unfortunately, research tells us that men are less likely to use mental health resources.
Despite these concerns, young men, particularly disengaged from school, family, or a workplace, may feel a lack of control in our society. The Bipartisan Safter Community Act should support programs that genuinely engage young men to avoid disengagement from school and their families.
Men need ways to express their power and control through a number of groups, including job training programs, sports, arts, music, drama, or a game club. When used, these spaces of connection can connect young men to something bigger in the community.
Each of us in the community probably knows a young person who wants the opportunity to feel accomplished, confident or strong. How can our community encourage and provide these opportunities?
Christopher Gjesfjeld, Bloomington