CalMHSA Calls for Mental Health Education, Acceptance After Tragic Shooting


The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) is calling for inclusion and acceptance for people with mental health challenges and to re-examine stereotypes around mental illness after the tragic events yesterday at Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

“The stigma around mental illness means our society is quick to jump to conclusions when acts of violence occur,” said Dr. Wayne Clark, Executive Director of CalMHSA, an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. “The fact is that people with mental illness are far more likely to be victims, not perpetrators, of violence. Yesterday’s tragic event is a chance for us all to reconsider the biases that prevent people in our community from seeking help. Visit to make a personal commitment to learn more, speak up, and reach out to ensure our loved ones, colleagues, and classmates know help for mental health challenges is effective and available.”

Facts About Mental Health and Violence

  • Although violent incidents draw significant attention that makes their impact feel widespread, violence is statistically rare.
  • Individuals with common mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, are not much more likely to be violent to others than individuals without these conditions.[1]
  • One in four people experience a diagnosable mental health challenge each year.[2]  About the same percentage of the population has blonde hair – but we wouldn’t say blonde hair causes violence.
  • For those people who do have mental health challenges, recovery is not only possible but probable.[3]
  • People with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than individuals without these conditions. [4]
  • Suicide accounts for more than half of annual gun deaths in the U.S. [5]

Resources for Journalists

Journalists reporting on yesterday’s tragic events may find the following resources useful:

Referral Resources for Californians:

  1.  – A website for sharing best practices in promoting student mental health on California college campuses.
  2. – A system wide web portal to services on California State University campuses.
  3. View the PBS documentary “A New State of Mind” and take the pledge to end stigma associated with mental illness.
  4. – A website for young people to learn about mental health challenges, acceptance and inclusion.
  5. – An online forum for young people to support one another.
  6. – Learn how to identify the signs of suicide, and take action to stop it.