In light of recent events, and as the community reflects on the tragedy this year, it is important to distinguish mass shootings from mental illness.
College communities must commit to reduce stigma, remind students that mental health is physical health, equip the community with resources, and teach people to be compassionate during mental health crises.
Most, like myself, have mental illness as a result of childhood trauma. And most, like myself, will be diagnosed between the ages of 17 and 26 years old.
My struggle with the tragedy was that the only person I related to was the shooter. No one should have to wrestle that burden while grappling with the reality of a lifetime spent managing mental illness.
It is important to remember that a person in crisis is very scared. Acts of patience and kindness in those moments create trust which make us more likely to seek and maintain treatment.
I learned how to live a full and meaningful life with a serious mental illness in the New River Valley. It’s important for the community to know full recovery is reality; not just a possibility.
Jennifer Spangler, Moseley