To the faithful listeners of The Unspoken Conversation,

One of the most important factors to a meaningful conversation about Mental Health (or any topic for that matter) is authenticity. So with that in mind I would like to share my thoughts about something that has been pressing on my heart recently.

On November 5th, 2017 tragedy struck the people worshipping at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs when 26 people were senselessly murdered in the largest mass shooting in a house of worship in modern American history. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this horrible attack.

Sadly, there is another group of people that have become victims in the fallout of this situation, those that struggle with mental illness. In the past couple days popular figures have used mental illness and use of antidepressants in the killer’s background to blame mental illness solely for his actions. This is simply not true.

Here are a couple of my thoughts about these people’s comments:

1. When assessing a situation it is important to look at ALL of the contributing factors, not just something about a person that may be different than you. This further alienates people and doesn’t provide a substantive solution.

2. There is NO scientific support for antidepressants causing violence. If you (especially a person of influence) are going to speak about these things please make sure to understand the facts.

3. There is nothing wrong with acknowledging the root cause of a problem, in fact that is essential to dealing with it. However, to cast blame does not solve problems. If mental illness did play a role in this mass shooting, and you are going to comment on that, it would be most productive to offer a solution for treatment for people that are struggling. Unfortunately, these speakers left it at blame with no real solution in sight.

Here is the simple truth. People were hurting as a result of this violent act. Now due to inflammatory and unnecessary comments from people of influence more people are hurting. This is why I chose to address this in a carefully worded letter rather than some off hand comment on the show or short Facebook status.

When dealing with tragedy we need to show care and concern to all who are involved while seeking solutions to better our world and prevent future shootings and violence from taking place.

I urge the people that have made these statements to apologize and join a productive conversation about these matters.

While we currently don’t have any content about the affect of violence on a person’s mental health. If you would like further conversations about mental health as related to grief check out:

Episode 4 with Sathiya Sam
Episode 35 with Mike Meinema
Episode 40 with David Vukovich

Or further information about how to respond to a friend with mental illness:

Moments with Dr. Merry #2

Our goal at The Unspoken Conversation is to be a productive part of the solution and as such if you have a story about how violence has affected your life please be in touch as we will work toward this important topic being featured on the program.

In a world filled with, war, hate and violence, EMPATHY is the key to ending the stigma that distracts us from true acceptance of all people.

I am so honoured to lead a community that embraces love over hate, empathy over judgement and conversation over blame.

Of course I am always open and available to talk further with our listeners so please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions or thoughts about what I have written here.

Sincerely,

Jordan Berta
Anchor and Executive Producer
TheUnspokenConversation.ca