After the Verdict: “Where do we go From Here?” Improve our Mental Health

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This is the second of a multi-part series that offers suggestions to the question on everyone’s mind: “after the verdict, where do we go from here?”

Did you know that George Zimmerman was on a psychotropic drug the night he killed Trayvon Martin? Zimmerman was prescribed Temazepam and Adderall, which have known side effects of aggressive behavior, anxiety and hallucinations. While we know that people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators, we still wonder what role these drugs played in Zimmerman’s fear and anxiety that night when he called 911 from the safety of his car. We can’t say for sure if Zimmerman is mentally ill or not, but present in many of the current national and international debates on gun violence is the sometimes subdued , sometimes pronounced question about our collective national mental health.

There are mental health advocates on a mission to bring this dialogue into the forefront. You don’t have to be a psychiatrist to help make this country a more mentally and emotionally healthy place.  You can make a difference right in your community. The National Alliance on Mental Illness has a handy list where you can find your state chapter and join them by sharing your experiences with mental illness, join a discussion group, fundraise and advocate for wider national access to mental health care. If you’re in New York City, the Urban Justice Center also has a great mental health project that reaches out to underprivileged New Yorkers finding them the help they deserve. Remember, talking about mental illness is crucial.  The first step is reaching out to your friends and family members with openness and honesty about our struggles.  Chances are if you’ve ever felt down or overwhelmed, they have too.

by Shannon Shird

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