Commentary: Addressing the problem of mass murder in United States

More mass murders and more outcry and demand for changes. But, what will our leaders do about this problem — which is an effect of a larger problem? Nothing. They will just talk and blame and try to grab the guns. But the terrorists will still use other tools to murder with. We have a big problem in America: mental health.

Most of America is mentally unhealthy because most of America is physically unhealthy. For the first time outside of wartime or a disease epidemic, American life expectancy is falling. Rates of heart disease, stroke and cancer are rising, especially among young Americans, like those mass killers. Suicides and overdoses have skyrocketed among our young people so it’s no surprise that mental illness is so prevalent in America today.

Physical and mental health rise and fall in tandem. Addictions are the cause of America’s declining life expectancy and mental illness epidemic. Substance abuse is all around us and consumes us. From opiates and alcohol to food and electronic media, we are a captured people, now spinning out of control to certain doom. Without substantive change, without thinking outside the box, the mass killings and America’s mental illness epidemic will surely accelerate.

Obviously, our health care system cannot treat the problem. It has failed. It will continue to fail because it’s not designed to cure addictions and mental illnesses, only maintain them with drugs or substitution with another addiction.

Scott Walker

Our legal system has failed to solve the problem of mass killings and crime committed by mentally ill Americans because our system uses punishment and not correction as its basis. The vast majority of our prison population is mentally disabled. We warehouse them there untreated sometimes for decades.

No, we as Americans must solve our problems together as one, outside of our institutions and our conventions and our “proper” way of doing things.

Today, all across America, tens of thousands of Americans are successfully overcoming addictions and mental disabilities — at no taxpayer expense — in residential homes in family neighborhoods. There are dozens of such homes in Delaware. Most operate under the legal protection of the reasonable accommodations clause of the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

America, and Delaware needs to expand the scope of this type of health care a thousandfold to begin to arrest the decline in public health we are witnessing today as evidenced by the recent shootings. Sadly, the resistance to this very successful, inexpensive treatment program comes from superstitions and biases about mental illness held by very intelligent people and our political leaders, who are afraid to make a stand on this issue.

A typical “recovery house” that I would propose for our communities would operate under five basic therapeutic principles: (1), Education; residents would be taught the common element behind all addictions and most mental illness, manipulation of neurotransmitters in the brain, and the consequences of addictive behaviors. (2) Socialization, or residents of the recovery house acting as one family with one common cause: to regain their health. (3) Nutrition: residents would be taught what a healthy diet is and what it is not and how crucial diet is to good physical and consequent mental health. (4) Exercise is also key to good health and residents would be taught how to exercise properly. (5) Rest and Relaxation: without proper rest, the first four therapies above will not work.

The Clinton administration was big on “it takes a village” to make a great nation. And now, we must come together and make ourselves into a great village where we can take care of our sick and wounded. The finger-pointing and calls to end civil liberties are childish distractions meant to lead us away from the causes of our problems and the solutions.

We can do this. We must do it now.

Scott Walker, of Milford, was the Republican candidate for Delaware’s U.S. House of Representatives seat in 2016.

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