4:58 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Panel Will Take a Closer Look at Mental Health & Gun Violence

Over the past year, the Mental Health Association in Forsyth County has hosted a series of panel discussions to help raise awareness and provide education about mental illness. On Thursday, the organization will host an event called “Mental Health and Gun Violence”.

Credit by Auraelius via flckr

Mental Health experts say one in four adults and one in five children suffers from mental illness in the United States.

“The biggest barrier that we face even in 2013 is the stigma that people have against mental health. There is still that notion that people with mental illness are violent, that they are dangerous, but statistically speaking by and large people with mental illness or particularly those with severe mental illness are far more often the victim of crime than the perpetrator of crime,” says Andy Hagler, executive director of Mental Health Association in Forsyth County, Inc.

The featured speaker on the panel will be Jeffrey Swanson, Ph.D, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at Duke University.  Hagler says the audience will have a chance to interact with panel members during the event.

Other panel members include Mike Bridges, the customer services director for CenterPoint Human Services, Stephen Kramer, M.D., a professor at Wake Forest University School of Medicine, and Connie Southern, assistant chief of investigative services for the Winston-Salem Police Department. Hagler says the audience will also have a chance to interact with panel members during the event.

“We need up front treatment for mental health, we need early intervention, we need more money into our public system, and we need to not make our jails and prisons become the new asylums. The bottom line is that we need to look at mental illness as a public health issue, just like we see heart disease, obesity or diabetes,” says Hagler.

The Mental Health Association in Forsyth County is co-hosting the event with the Translational Science Institute at Wake Forest University School of Medicine and the UNCG Center for Youth, Family and Community Partnerships.

The program is free and open to the public. The panel discussion about “Mental Health and Gun Violence” will take place Thursday, Nov. 14 from 6:30 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. in the Self-Reliance Hall at Goodwill Industries on University Parkway in Winston-Salem.