Posted 9:21 AM 8/30/2012 : Tucson's faith community offers help for people with mental illnesses
TUCSON- It has been a violent summer across our country. From a deadly movie massacre in Aurora, Colorado, to a shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, we've seen a string of deadly shooting rampages in places we always thought we'd be safe.
After each incident, one of the first questions people have is if a mental illness pushed the shooters over the edge.
Whether or not that's the case, the question has sparked an effort in Tucson to get people help before it's too late. "We are never going to be able to predict and prevent every outburst of violence," says Dr. Paul Duckro of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson.
But Dr. Duckro says the faith community in particular can help. "It's a very important group to reach because persons with mental illnesses very frequently come first to a church," Dr. Duckro says.
This month Tucson's Interfaith Community Services started handing out a mental illness resource kit to local faith communities. So far ICS has reached about 300.
The kit has information about mental illnesses, as well as where people can go to get help. "When a person has someone in their office, this may be the only time they're going to be able to reach them and if they don't get the right answer the person may go away," Dr. Duckro says.
He says in most cases, people with mental illnesses don't pose a danger to the community, rather themselves. "They have suicidal thoughts," Duckro says.
He says the key is to avoid the stigma associated with mental illnesses, so people feel comfortable getting help. "The more we are able to be aware and knowledgeable about what we are seeing, the more likely we are to pick up on a problem early," Duckro says.
The resource kit is one of several programs ICS is putting in place to follow-up on its conference, "Faith Communities & Mental Illness: Tools for Response and Care," which took place last April.
Arizona and Phoenix. ICS will also present a Lunch and Learn series on October 11, titled "Mental Illness Awareness: Becoming a Welcoming Community."
For additional information visit the ICS website at www.icstucson.org or call 520.297.2738 ext. 233.
Here is a link to the mental illness resource kit:
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