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Mass shootings raise questions about mental health help

8:56 AM, Dec 18, 2012   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Mental health issues have surfaced with mass shooters in past years. Although none were diagnosed with a disorder, each received some sort of counseling for their behavior.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, half of all lifetime cases of mental illness begin by age 14 and three quarters start by age 24.

Adam Lanza was 20 years old. James Holmes, the accused shooter in the Colorado Theatre Shootings, is 24. The Virginia Tech shooter was 23 and the two high school seniors responsible for the mass shootings at Columbine in 1999 were 17 and 18 years old.

Here are some of the top questions regarding mental illness on the First Coast:

Q: What are the symptoms or signs of mental illness?

A: According to Dr. Ellen Williams, Director of Behavioral Health at Baptist Medical Center, you can look for those who are withdrawn. "People who are disconnected from their peers or their family who don't know how to communicate with others who are not functioning in a way that's normal, like going to school or work on a regular basis those are some of the signs you want to look for."
She says another sign is obsessing over strange things or exhibiting odd behavior.

Q: How do I tell a loved one to seek help?
A: "Sometimes if you turn it around and say, 'You know, I'm having some trouble with something, or the family is having trouble,'" explains Williams.  She says that method is especially effective with children or teens. "You can say, 'We're going to go as a family to get help.' Sometimes that takes the focus off the child so they don't feel like the identified person with the problem," she says.

Q: Where do I go for help?
A: Williams says if you have insurance, you can go to any private provider that accepts your insurance. However, she says it can be a challenge to figure out where to go for help if you don't have insurance. "There are health centers set up for them to get access but they often have a waiting list," she says.
"For instance, one caller said her son, who's 26 years old, did have an appointment and did have someone who prescribed medication, but then they couldn't get a follow up appointment so he ran out of his medication, ended up acting out and ended up in jail."

For children and families Williams suggests community mental health centers such as:

Child Guidance Center:

Southside Office:
5776 St. Augustine Road
Jacksonville, FL 32207
(904) 448-4700

Westside Office:
4595 Lexington Avenue
Jacksonville, FL 32210
(904) 448-4700

Northside Office:
1110 Edgewood Avenue West
Jacksonville, FL 32208
(904) 448-4700

Arlington/Beaches Office:
1100 Cesery Boulevard, Suite 11
Jacksonville, FL 32211
(904) 448-4700

Lutheran Services:
4615 Philips Highway

Northwest Behavioral Health:
2392 Edgewood Avenue North 
(904) 781-0600

Clay Behavioral Health:
3292 County Rd. 220, Middleburg, FL 32068

First Coast News

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