May 26, 2022

Like all of you, we watched Tuesday’s news with horror and mourn this preventable loss of life. Nineteen elementary school children, too young to be anything but innocent, and two teachers killed senselessly and brutally in their classroom.

We do not know the circumstances resulting in the tragic decision by a young man to perpetrate this crime, but we do know that those who pass laws allowing him to purchase two AR-15s and 375 rounds of ammunition shortly after his 18th birthday abet the action and must share in that responsibility. Horror is not enough. Mourning is not enough. Action is demanded of all of us.

We extend our sympathy to all the families directly harmed by this violence, although we can scarcely grasp the weight of such a tragedy on the small community of Uvalde.

Our mission at MAMH is to promote mental health and wellness – but how can we reassure anxious children, families, and communities when, as a nation, we have more guns than people and when guns are the leading cause of death in children? Uvalde’s tragedy is only a week after 10 people were killed in a hate-filled rampage at a Buffalo supermarket, which was just one more of a long history of mass shootings in our nation. To separate gun policies from advocacy for healthy bodies and minds is folly.

“Our mission at MAMH is to promote mental health and wellness – but how can we reassure anxious children, families, and communities when, as a nation, we have more guns than people and when guns are the leading cause of death in children?”

To state that mental illness and a lack of clinicians in a rural area are to blame is a dangerous lie. The prevalence of mental health conditions and under-resourced rural areas are conditions the United States shares with every developed country, yet only our nation has an epidemic of mass murder in our schools, supermarkets, and spiritual sanctuaries.

We need to be accountable, without reservation, to gaps in our mental health system and woefully inadequate mental health promotion and prevention efforts. We are sadly lacking in these investments that are proven to protect the well being of children and adolescents. All of us at MAMH pledge to persist in our advocacy for universal mental health education in schools to provide students with information to better understand their mental health and resources to turn to when they need help. We will continue to fight for expanded access to culturally relevant services and treatment, collaborations between schools and community mental health providers, and insurance parity to ensure everyone can get timely help that they want and need. And we will continue to promote social policies to address poverty, trauma, and racism at their roots.

We know that children and families across the nation are grieving and afraid. If you are a parent, you may be wondering whether or how to talk about these events with your children. While you know your child best, initiating a conversation, validating their concerns, and sharing information about all the ways that adults keep them safe can help to address their fears. For more information, here are links to some resources that we have found helpful:

Child Traumatic Stress Network

Talking to Children About the Shooting

Child Mind Institute

Helping Children Cope After a Traumatic Event

Helping Children Cope with Frightening News

Going Back to School After a Tragedy

Mental Health America

Talking to Kids About School Safety

Helping Children Cope with Tragedy Related Anxiety

National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement

Talking to Children About Terrorist Attacks and School and Community Shootings in the News

Danna and the MAMH Team

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