Remember the days when your worst fear raising kids was them falling down and skinning a knee? Today parents still fret over innocuous accidents but are much more anxious about the rise of very real threats they have no control over. Threats like mass school shootings, the possible turnover of Roe V Wade, and the huge number of adolescent drug overdoses. These are some serious reasons for parents to feel more fearful than at any other time. Taken together, parents are having a healthcare crisis.
And they (and their children) need our help if they are going to make it through with their mental states intact.
Parents Healthcare Crisis 1
Mass shootings are a devastating healthcare crisis for parents and their families. And since the number of them is skyrocketing, there is an ever-widening number of people directly impacted by them such as the victims, the victim’s parents, parents of their kid’s friends, teachers, the shooter and his family and friends, the first responders, policemen and women and their friends and family. That’s alot of people in crisis.
According to the Washington Post, “Mass shootings, where four or more people — not including the shooter — are injured or killed, have averaged more than one per day so far this year. Not a single week in 2022 has passed without at least three mass shootings.” If that’s not a healthcare crisis for those parents I don’t know what is. These frightening statistics move the issue from being a political one to a health care crisis because the results are death, extreme depression, and anxiety.
“In 2021, almost 700 mass shootings occurred, a jump from the 611 in 2020 and 417 in 2019. Before that, incidents had not topped 400 annually since the Gun Violence Archive started tracking in 2014.” To date, 256 people have been shot and killed so far in 2022 – not including suicides, murders, gang violence, and all other types of shooting deaths. If each shooting affects approximately 20 people that’s 6,120 in crisis.
The mental health toll on the shooting survivors and their families (more than 14,000 people per year) is so traumatic some say they will never be the same as they were prior to the shooting experience.
In my mind assault weapons should be reserved for the military and police only. No one goes hunting with an assault weapon, nor needs to own them for recreational use. The fact is more people die from suicide by a gun than they do from mass shootings. And the reason is that guns are so accessible and therefore tempting.
Parents Healthcare Crisis 2
Abortions; plain and simple. Since they were legalized in 1973 death by abortion has dropped significantly and the number of abortions performed has dropped significantly as well. According to the CDC roughly 1.5 Million abortions were performed in 1980 and 862,000 were performed in 2017 (the last year the CDC updated the numbers). That’s a drop of about 50%. So fears that abortions would be used as a form of birth control by anti-abortionists are completely unfounded.
Instead, it’s just the opposite. Women having better access to healthcare prevents them from having unwanted pregnancies in the first place. Now they have access to medical professionals to discuss all types of birth control, specifics about abortion, and other choices they can make. You can read about it in more detail here.
Parents Healthcare Crisis 3
Addiction and overdoses. It has been proven that addicts are people with a mental health disease plain and simple. They are not criminals (though they may steal to get enough money for a fix) and they are not people who simply can’t control their impulses. They are mentally ill and require medical, and psychological treatment to effectively combat the disease. You can read more about Fentanyl in my previous post.
Punitive measures like jail time and fines do not help the addict overcome his/her illness. Instead, we should be thinking about putting harm reduction measures in place (view details here), and training emergency room doctors in the science behind addiction so they can speak to the patient about their options for getting better and recommending appropriate care.
Parents Desperately Need Our Help
In large part being a parent means protecting your children by providing them with a safe environment. But these three catastrophic healthcare crises have become a crisis for all parents. How many parents have kissed their kids goodbye in the morning before school not knowing it would be the last time? Or how many parents gave their teenage son/daughter the keys to the car to attend a party not thinking it’s the last time he/she will need them. 200,000 parents found themselves in this position in 2021. And if you multiply this by several years you are talking about half a million parents trying to move on after surviving their child’s death.
How many daughters will no longer have access to legal abortions and agency over their own bodies? How many will die from trying to undue pregnancies themselves?
These three healthcare crises are having a very negative mental health impact on parents and their children right now. And since parents are the foundation of our families and the bedrocks of our communities we must provide laws and policies in place to prevent more senseless deaths. And we need more crisis centers where these parents and their kids can get the help they need right now. Let’s all support the organizations that are attempting to reverse these patterns (both financially and physically). Let’s all get in the same boat to make life safer for our parents and their kids.
We cannot afford to sit on the sidelines any more. We must change these trends. Here are some resources to both get help and provide help:
Mental Health Foundation’
March for Our Lives
Everytown – for Gun Safety
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration
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