Mental Illnesses

Demi Lovato Campaigns Mental Health Awareness As Latinos Fall Short Seeking Help

Demi Lovato

It is huge that the megastar Demi Lovato has come out to speak about mental health awareness, especially when the majority of Latinos don’t seek help from a mental health professional.

Lovato, who is known for being upfront with her struggles with being bullied when she was a child, bulimia, drug addiction and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder, is now an advocate for mental health awareness.

“Yeah, I’ve been very open about my story because I know that the more honest and open that I am the more people that I’m going to reach,” says Lovato on the “Today Show”.

“Growing up, I felt very, very depressed,” says the chart-topping singer to the Associated Press. “Even though I was playing concerts and living out my dream, I couldn’t tell you why I was upset.”

Lovato, who is encouraging others to tell their stories on mental health, joined a new campaign called “Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health” with a pharmaceutical company, the National Alliance on Mental Illness and other mental-health advocacy groups. The campaign aims to develop better treatment options and abolish the negative connotation of the word mental illness.

Because of that stigma the Latino community, unfortunately, falls short when looking for help from a mental health professional. According to a report by the American Psychiatric Association’s Office of Minority and National Affairs, only 1 in 11 Hispanics contact a mental health specialist for help.

The AP reports that Lovato, whose father is of Mexican and Spanish descent, was actually relieved when she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which is a chemical imbalance that creates mood swings ranging from depressive lows to manic highs.

“I remember smiling and thinking great, OK, so there’s not anything wrong with me as a person,” she said. “It’s actually just a condition that I have and I can do something to fix it. I don’t have to be like this forever.”

YOUNG VOICES: Pull the Trigger on Gun Violence!

by: John Rodriguez

In 2011, a gunman opened fire on a crowd in Arizona during an open meeting with U.S Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Giffords was among the 19 people injured, six of them succumbed to their injuries. In 2006, 32 people lost their lives when a college student opened fire upon the campus of Virginia Tech. With the incident at Arizona still fresh in our minds, also stirring memories of the Virginia Tech massacre, the always hotly debated issue of Gun Control has risen yet again. But this time, proponents for it are seeking an alternative to prevent such tragedies by keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people and only in hands of those who can pass the necessary checks to do so.

Recently, United States Senator Charles E. Schumer, New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly joined together to introduce a legislation that would provide the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) with a greater report on individuals with mental illnesses, domestic violence records, and drug abusers in order to prevent firearms from every getting into their hands. The legislation created by the three New York City powerhouses would require that all gun sales be subjected to background checks which would bring an end to the gun show loopholes, a loophole that permitted the mass shooting in Arizona.

The legislation was created between the Mayor, Senator, and Police Commissioner is based on proposal created by the coalition of Mayor’s Against Illegal Guns (MAIG). The MAIG was created in 2006, and currently consists of over 550 Mayors who have united against gun violence in order to protect communities by ensuring that gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers are held accountable for the violence being inflicted upon the communities. The MAIG’s objective is to combat illegal gun trafficking and work with legislators to fix gaps within the Law that enabled criminals and mentally incapable individuals from getting their hands on firearms in the very first place.

In a statement about the legislation, Mayor Bloomberg addressed the issue of the affects inflicted upon citizens when firearms are in the hands of criminals, “Americans want their government to take basic, common sense steps to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. To do that, and stop the murder of 34 Americans killed with guns every day…Senator Schumer’s bill would save lives and protect communities all across the nation – and mayors all across the nation will be its biggest supporters.”

The growth of gun violence within New York City is troubling, and within the Latino community itself. The growth can seen over a two year and 6 month analysis of the Crime and Enforcement Activity report complied by the city’s Law Enforcement. In the 2008 and 2009 reports, statistics gathered from the months January 1st to December 31st, it was reported that the two highest groups pertaining to involvement of firearms are Blacks and Hispanics.

In 2008, Victims of shootings who were Hispanics were most frequently 20.6%. Meanwhile, the estimated number of shooting suspects who were Hispanics was 19.9% and out of those arrested for shootings 24.1% were Hispanics. But the arrest rate for having a firearm in their possession lists Hispanics at 23.6%. In 2009, there was a minor decrease compared to 2008. Hispanics arrested with firearms fell to 23.3%, Hispanic shooting suspects fell to 18.3%, and Hispanic shooting arrest fell to 23.6%. However, Hispanic victims of shooting incidents rose to 23%.

During a six-month report, statistics complied from January 1st to June 30th, 2010 showed that Hispanic shooting victims had dropped to 22.1%. Hispanic shooting suspects rose again to 23.6% with Hispanic shooting arrests remained at 23.6% with Hispanic arrests with firearms dramatically rose to 26.3%. All these reported findings do share two distinctive similarities, other ethnical groups outside of Latino and Blacks living within New York City barely breaks the 3-5% percentage and that not enough is being done to ensure that gun traffickers are stopped from introducing firearms into the community.

Senator Schumer claims that, the heinous acts of gun violence within our communities and within the United States is due to, “lax reporting by states and federal agencies,” since they have, “allowed guns to get into the hands of dangerous individuals,” which could have prevented horrific tragedies. Schumer also clears that the legislation does not, “impinge upon gun owners’ rights, but it does provide greater incentive for reporting individuals who should not have access to guns to a national do-not-sell list.”

What this legislation does is, settles the argument between both proponents and opponents to some extent. Opponents against the proposed Gun Control initiative feel it would hinder the rights of law abiding citizens. Law-abiding citizens who own small business or are simply trying to protect their home and family, opponents pan any proposal because of the grim fact that if such bans occur citizens who have the right to protect themselves may not be able to against a threatening criminal who deters from the law and chooses to wield a firearm who have to the right to take arms and defend themselves against the very criminals who have easy access to guns.

While both Opponents against and Proponents for gun control share viable opinions, the true issue that should be addressed is educating communities inflicted by daily crimes where firearms are the medium of such crimes like: robberies, assaults, and so on. Yes, the tragedies in Arizona and Virginia are horrific and could have been avoided but the ongoing gun violence in our communities, Latino and out, should be considered a hot issue daily since it is clearly a rising problem.

Gun violence with small ethnic communities may not merit national coverage, but should merit some initiative taken by our government to help combat the illegal distribution of firearms into the hands of young Americans. By targeting our youth while cleaning up the presence of illegal firearm distribution, the above statistics regarding Hispanics and other minorities may drop marginally over time. If a stronger initiative is taken by both arguing sides, and if they spend more time review the statistics ample amount of time spent arguing could be spent doing something useful and prevent the lost of further life by the firing of a gun someone should have never been holding.