Reflecting on the Tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary

As a mother of a kindergartener and second grade student in elementary school, the tragic event at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut last Friday really hit close to home.  Although I’m a mental health professional, I, like the rest of the world, have been grieving and wondering why in the world something so tragic like this happened.  Unfortunately, it’s all too common these days to hear that a tragic, senseless shooting has occurred somewhere.

As is the case for many people, my faith has been, and always is, an incredible source of comfort, strength, and peace for me in difficult times.  There are some great mental health resources, though, that I wanted to pass along, particularly around how to talk to children about events like these.  My kids were not aware of the shootings in Connecticut when I picked them up from school on Friday, and my husband and I decided we would wait until maybe some time over the weekend when the time was right to talk with them about it.  The topic came out of the blue and took me a bit by surprise when on Sunday afternoon, we pulled up in front of the post office to mail some holiday cards and my seven-year-old son asked why the flag outside of the building was flying at half-staff.  My husband and I briefly explained what happened, giving only the most basic of details.  My son had a couple of questions about it, and we answered them.  It’s obviously very difficult figuring out how to talk with your children about tragic events like the one that occurred in Newtown, but the resources below offer some helpful advice and suggestions about how to go about it.

Pervasive Underemployment of People with Serious Mental Illnesses

(By Robert Bernstein, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Judge David L. Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law )

As pundits debate the implications of the latest unemployment data, far too little attention has been paid once again to the pervasive, dramatic underemployment of people with serious mental illnesses. This population is truly forgotten by most media, policymakers and thought leaders. However, the Obama Administration has an important opportunity to make strides in addressing this issue – when the Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs releases its proposed rules on affirmative action requirements for federal contractors hiring people with disabilities.

These businesses employ 22 percent of the country’s workforce; so the rules will have a significant effect on the labor market. That is why the rules should include specific targets for hiring people with mental illnesses, intellectual disabilities and other highly stigmatized disabilities, who have experienced, historically, some of the steepest barriers to employment – and for all the wrong reasons.