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Blaming mass shootings on mental illness is 'inaccurate' and 'stigmatizing,' experts say

Blaming mass shootings on mental illness is 'inaccurate' and 'stigmatizing,' experts say

President Donald Trump described a weekend of two mass shootings — one in El Paso, Texas, and the other in Dayton, Ohio — as a "mental illness problem."

"We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment but when necessary involuntary confinement," Trump said during a public address on Monday. "Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun."

Yet mental health experts, including representatives from the American Psychological Association, have called it "unfounded" to blame mass shootings on mental illness in place of considering other possible factors, such as hate, bigotry and access to assault weapons.

Calling every mass shooting a mental health problem is "inaccurate and it's stigmatizing," said Arthur Evans, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association.

Mental illness affects millions of adults across the country. About 1 in 5 adults in the United States, or 46.6 million, experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

"The reality is that there are a variety of reasons that mass shootings happen," Evans said. "If this were a mental health issue and this was the only issue involved here, what you would see is roughly the same number of mass shootings around the world and we're not seeing that.".


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