Like many of you, I subscribe to a number of listservs and RSS feeds to keep my finger on the pulse of the healthcare and mental health industries.
Recently, a great debate was ignited when a summary titled “Study Finds Psychiatric Factors Not Linked to Multiple Homicide Victims
” was shared on one of those listservs. The bulletin was prefaced with the following note from the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS).
NYAPRS Note: In the wake of multiple violent crimes that media linked to mental illness, advocates for mental health de-stigmatization and rehabilitation are often left quoting the same study indicating that individuals with a mental health diagnosis are far more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it. The below study
[titled "Psychiatric Characteristics of Homicide Defendants
"], published by the American Journal of Psychiatry last month, indicates that there is no statistical link between diagnosed “psychiatric disorders” and the use of firearms or violence toward multiple victims.
I don’t plan to debate the premise of the article here, but as I continue to work with organizations that are striving to reduce workplace violence, I was pleased to see so many people weighing in on the subject. While many points were debated on varying sides of the issue, there was a common thread that all parties seemed to agree upon, and it’s a view I’ve shared here on this blog
. The theme is this:
We all have to participate in the effort to reduce violence in our workplaces.
In one of the responses back and forth on the issue, Dr. Kevin Ann Huckshorn, current Division Director for the Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, said:
“The issue here that is never talked about is this. Prevention of violence is everyone's responsibility. Parents, educators, employers, friends, families, and bystanders. Without every single citizen being responsible to know about the typical signs of dangerous behaviors and knowing what to do, nothing will ever change. The causes for these behaviors are complex and frankly not that important. What is important is that everyone recognizes these symptoms and intervenes as necessary. Blaming the mental health system or people with mental health conditions, for these tragedies, gets us nowhere.”
I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Huckshorn when she spoke at our 2006 International Instructors’ Conference. She presented a session titled Moving Mental Health Systems Toward Recovery: Literature, Leadership, Language, Labor, and Legislation.
Already then, as the director of NASMHPD’s (National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors) Office of Technical Assistance, she was working on the well-known Six Core Strategies
for reducing restraint and seclusion—strategies for everyone to use to reduce stigma and violence in mental health settings.
In just a couple weeks, CPI will again be exhibiting at the annual ASHRM
(American Society for Healthcare Risk Management) conference. The theme for this year’s conference is “Everyone Is a Risk Manager.”
The conference is full of sessions supporting the implementation of comprehensive, organization-wide frameworks for risk management. For many organizations, violence in their workplace is one of their top three risks.
And so . . . the soapbox.
I feel like the time is now to act on this more and more widely accepted premise that safety is indeed everyone’s responsibility. Daily I still encounter organizations that are not providing the training and resources to their employees to recognize the early warning signs of potential violence, or the skills to safely manage assaultive or disruptive behavior. More and more industries are identifying the need, but still not acting. More and more organizations are recognizing that they’re spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on workers’ compensation claims directly related to acts of workplace violence from all levels of the Workplace Violence Continuum
So now is the time to act. Now is the time to work together to reduce workplace violence.
If you’re ready to act, stop by and see us October 27–30, 2013 at the ASHRM Conference in Austin, TX at booth #536. Or just give us a call—we’re happy to support you in your efforts to make your workplace safer.