American Association for Emergency Psychiatry Releases New Position Statement on Mental Illness and Mass Shootings

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 Mental Health News
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The new American Association for Emergency Psychiatry (AAEP) position statement on mental illness and mass shootings recognizes the opportunities and limitations of psychiatric evaluation of people at risk for violence.

DENVER, May 23, 2018 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ -- The new American Association for Emergency Psychiatry (AAEP) position statement

on mental illness and mass shootings recognizes the opportunities and limitations of psychiatric evaluation of people at risk for violence. We call for routine evaluation, consultation, and multidisciplinary collaboration in mitigating potential threats across professions when clinically, legally and ethically appropriate.

Popular notions that improved psychiatric services would have a meaningful impact on reducing mass shootings are, unfortunately, inaccurate. Violence in general, and the much rarer phenomenon of mass shootings, are a legitimate focus of public health concern. Mental illness is believed to account for only about 5 percent of violence in general and previously identified psychiatric illness is identified in only about 15-25 percent of mass shooters. Where there is an intersection, psychiatry has a role to play and psychiatric emergency services can and should be a first step in the evaluation of violence risk to allow for rapid treatment of potential psychiatric factors.

However, psychiatric interventions alone will not have a substantial impact on reducing violence. Multidisciplinary assessment of threats and violence by collaborating professionals will be far more effective to address the complex and diverse risk factors for violence. In addition to working with other health care professionals such as social work and human services providers, improved collaboration with law enforcement professionals regarding persons of concern can also be helpful in some cases. Ultimately, the availability of effective, affordable mental health treatment in the least restrictive appropriate treatment setting will be essential for any person with mental illness and risk for violence.

The AAEP represents hundreds of psychiatrists and emergency medicine physicians across the country. This organization exists to champion evidence based, compassionate care for behavioral emergencies through research, educations and interdisciplinary collaboration.

In response to statements in the popular media that there is a "mental health fix" for this difficult issue, President Elect and specialist in violent behavior Jack Rozel, M.D., responds, "If we snapped our fingers and all mental illness was cured overnight, we would still be left with most of the mass shootings and at least 90 percent of the violence that's out there." He continues, "We still need to be sure that when the intersection between mental illness and violence is there, we are getting it right."

 

SOURCE American Association for Emergency Psychiatry



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