John Oliver has helped pushed mental health issues into the spotlight on his “Last Week Tonight” show. While Oliver didn’t deny the importance of mental health, he did argue that pushing the blame towards mental health is an attempt by some pro gun rights groups to distract people from the gun control debate.
Oliver actually argued that now is the worst time to talk about mental health, following the mass shooting incident in Oregon, which was allegedly carried out by a mentally disturbed person. In the wake of such an event, it’s easy to blame the mentally disturbed for shootings, but Oliver points out that most shootings are not conducted by people with long-standing mental issues.
If you’d like to see the show, you’re in luck, and you won’t have to sign up for HBO. The clip is available on YouTube.
More so than other late night shows, John Oliver has opted to use his tv program as a springboard for social activism, frequently taking on important issues, such as tobacco companies and televangelists.
We’re now in the midst of mental health awareness week
Meanwhile, numerous organizations and universities across the United States are launching a mental health awareness week. As the plague of mass shootings continues in the U.S. more attention is being focused on mental health. In most cases, those who perpetuated the shootings appeared to have mental impairments.
For the University of Wyoming, this week is a big week for mental health. The University has been planning a mental health awareness week, and has scheduled a number of events and talks throughout the week. Now, following the mass shooting in Oregon, a number of local governments and other organizations are joining in, trying to raise awareness over mental health.
Besides the University of Wyoming, Washburn University in Kansas will also be holding a mental health week from 4th to the 10th. Various other organizations affiliated with the National Alliance on Mental Illness are also holding events this week.
The massive ramp up in mental health awareness events is no random occurrence. Last week, a deadly shooting took place at a community college in Oregon, claiming ten lives and sending numerous other people to the hospital. Already, evidence is emerging that the shooter, who we’re not going to honor with a name, was suffering from a mental illness.
Nine victims were killed in the shooting, which took place at Umpqua Community College. The victims ranged in age from 18 to 67. Now that the dust is settling, we’re learning more about the shooter, who had previously tried to serve in the army before he was discharged from basic training. Former classmates report that the shooter seemed disturbed and extremely sensitive. Blog posts allegedly written by the shooter report difficulties forming relationships, and other signs of mental issues.
More so than many other problems, mental health is an often stigmatized disease. Public services for mental health tend to be scarce, and many people avoid treatment, both because of high costs and the negative perception in seeking treatment.
Presidential hopeful and Republican governor of New Jersey Chris Christie also shed light on the ongoing shooting epidemic and mental health. Christie noted that while lax enforcement of gun control laws has contributed to the issue, the biggest factor remains poor mental health and particularly providing resources to treat those in a poor mental state. While Christie recently vetoed measures to increase gun control, New Jersey already has strict gun control laws, and a relatively low murder rate.
If you happen to live near Laramie, Wyoming, make sure you check out the University of Wyoming’s many free events this week. Make sure you check with local universities and other organizations to see if there is an event being held near you.