Oklahoma City. Columbine. 9/11. Hale Bopp. Virginia Tech. Fort Hood 1. Aurora. Clackamas. Seal Beach. Newtown. Boston. Fort Hood 2.
I know there are dozens more. No disrespect to the many victims and survivors, but I don’t have the stomach to do the research to develop a comprehensive list of mass killings over the past 20 years. It’s depressing. Some of these killers had known psychiatric illnesses. Others were undiagnosed and flew completely under the radar. Others still might not have shown up as disordered, but clearly had some distorted views on the value of life vs. their particular cause.
What I’m not saying: (Big disclaimer here) I’m not writing this to suggest that HeadCheck would have prevented these tragedies and saved those many innocent lives. I’m not proposing that HeadCheck be used as an instrument to weed out potential killers — those aren’t the type of measures we conduct, and we don’t aspire to move into that field. I’m not talking about HeadCheck today, I’m talking about mental health stigma.
What I am saying: The year is 2014, and we still have a mental health stigma. We don’t talk about mental health issues, we don’t talk about distress, we view people who go to therapy or seek other mental health treatment as somehow flawed. I don’t know the details, but I’ll bet that many of those infamous killers saw a physician and a dentist within two years of their horrific act. Why? Because every American knows you should see a physician yearly and a dentist every 6 months. What if it were just as common to see a mental health professional at regular intervals? Again, I’m not saying that all of these events could have been prevented and the lives spared. Someone hell-bent on destruction is hard to contain.
But I will propose that if every American citizen felt as comfortable discussing their mental health as their dental health, if they sought treatment as often and didn’t feel shame for having problems, we’d have fewer tragedies like those mentioned above.
HeadCheck isn’t designed to identify mass killers in the crowd. But it is designed to demystify and de-stigmatize mental health issues, and help people see it’s actually fun, cool, and beneficial to know your strengths and limitations. You see, our business provides mental health checkups to the Pasadena area, but our mission is to help change global attitudes about mind health and wellness. If this attitude becomes the culturally accepted norm, I hope these horrific tragedies will become the exception rather than an all-too-common reality.