Mental illness conversations grow after Navy Yard shooting


by Johnny Archer / WHAS


Posted on September 22, 2013 at 5:09 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Investigators are looking into the mental state of the Navy Yard gunman Aaron Alexis.

Mental disorders affects 26 percent of Americans who are older than 18.

“It’s only a fraction of those people who will become violent,” Kathy Dobbins of Wellspring, which provides psychiatric rehabilitative services for the mentally ill.

That fraction increases when substance abuse is added into the equation.

1 in 17 people are diagnosed with a severe mental illness like schizophrenia.

Dobbins is the executive director at Wellspring and has studied mental disorders for 30 years.

“People aren’t born with mental illness. They may have a predisposition to it. We still don’t know exactly what causes mental illness nor is there any way to predict it,” she said.

Dobbins says signs of mental illness includes social withdrawal, problems with sleeping and a person finding themselves randomly jumping from subject to subject in conversation.

“If it lasts for several months, it would be best for that person to seek treatment.”

Dobbins adds that there’s not enough supportive services in Kentucky for the amount of people who need it but there has been improvement in the area as this sensitive subject is finding its way closer to the forefront of conversation.

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