Mental Health Effects of Exposure to Gun Violence

The effects of gun violence on children are often overlooked by researchers. The majority of gun violence research focuses on the traumatic effects of mass shootings, defined as a shooting in which four or more people are killed or injured. This kind of violence, however, is also common in many suburban and urban settings. Despite its low profile, firearm violence in these settings is just as frightening and can trigger daily anxiety and fear.


People exposed to gun violence report feeling a constant threat and no time to heal from tragedies. According to a study by Yolanda T. Mitchell and Tiffany L. Bromfield, people who witness gun violence experienced higher rates of depression, anxiety, and PTSD than those who did not. They also reported a higher risk of drug abuse. It is vital that social workers work to decrease these risks of exposure to gun violence in communities and advocate for better mental health services and funding for mental health services.


Hospital Visits Following Exposure to Gun Violence


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 36,000 people were hospitalized following a shooting in 2010. That is nearly double the number of victims seen at hospitals across the country. The costs of treating shooting victims amounted to $630 million, much of which was covered by publicly funded health insurance. In addition to victims and survivors, the trauma caused by gun violence can affect family members, friends, neighbors, and even witnesses.


In the first year of this pandemic, hospital visits following exposure to gun violence spiked. This added strain to an already overburdened health care system. From March 2020 to February 2021, the number of firearm-related incidents in the US grew by 15%. While there was an overall decrease in emergency room visits, the increase in gun violence-related visits forced hospitals to open their doors early to treat an unplanned influx of patients.


The findings of this study also show a link between exposure to neighborhood gun violence and increased hospital visits for children with mental health disorders. This association was strongest among children who lived within a quarter-mile radius of the shooting. The researchers concluded that this association between neighborhood gun violence and hospital visits is significant. While gang-related activity does not explain all gun violence, it’s clearly an important one. As such, city health departments should implement policies aimed at reducing the risk of exposure to neighborhood gun violence.


Common Disorders Among Mental Illness Children


Most mental health disorders in adults start during childhood. An estimated 20% of children and adolescents experience a diagnosable mental disorder at some point in their lives. However, the number of children with one or more disorders is growing. Twenty-seven percent of adolescents in the United States meet the criteria for two or more mental health disorders. Although there are many factors that may lead to mental health problems in children, it’s important to understand that most begin in childhood. Researchers have also found that genes associated with mental health disorders are highly expressed throughout the lifespan and have a strong impact on brain development.


How is Mental Illness in Children Treated?


Treatment for mental illness in children can include a variety of different techniques. Treatment usually starts before a child reaches the age of 14. Mental illnesses can range from ADHD to oppositional defiant disorder to Autistic Disorder. They can also include anxiety disorders such as social phobia and depression. Treatment is a combination of talk therapy and medicines. It is important to note that the severity of a child’s condition will determine the type of treatment that is necessary.


How can I help my child cope with mental illness?


Talking to your child about a mental illness is a good idea. Social withdrawal, major changes in moods or grades, regression in behavior, and significant changes in mood are all signs of a mental health crisis. These signs can be used to help you create an action plan and monitor your child. As your child gets older, the conversation will get more complicated. These are some ways to start the conversation.


  • Learn about illnesses.


  • Family counseling is a way to treat all family members as partners in treatment planning.


  • Ask your child’s psychiatrist about how to handle difficult behavior and how to approach your child.


  • Register for a parent training course, especially for parents with children suffering from mental illness.


  • Find stress management techniques to calm your mind. Find ways to relax with your child and have fun.


  • Admire the strengths and talents of your child.


To ensure that your child receives the support they need, you should work with their school.


Impact on Health Equity


Improving the lives of people of all backgrounds requires a commitment to addressing health disparities. While this goal is admirable, it cannot be achieved alone. In order to truly improve health for all, more people must be educated about the need for equity and make sure that they have the resources to achieve it. Health equity is a major priority for the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (NCCDPHP). Through its research, tools, and programs, the NCCDPHP is working to eliminate health disparities.


Healthcare providers need to recognize that language access and cultural competency are closely related. Without adequate language skills, LEP patients are more likely to be denied the care they need. Furthermore, disparities between LEP and non-LEP groups are pronounced. Inequitable care for LEP patients has serious consequences, including increased mortality rates. As a result, healthcare providers should understand the social determinants of health in their communities to better cater to specific populations.


HEMF is an overarching measurement framework that includes socioeconomic, cultural, political, and health policy contexts. This framework focuses on measuring the interrelationships among these variables. In addition, it provides guidelines for the design and application of research, surveillance systems, and health policies. By assessing these factors, we can better understand how to improve health outcomes for all people. However, it does not guarantee a perfect solution, as we need to make some changes first.


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