How do you explain a tragedy like the killings in Aurora, Colorado last weekend? Lives lost. Innocence lost. The unthinkable once again a reality. The news has been filled with speculation about why a promising Ph.D. student would create such a plan, stockpile ammunition, booby-trap an apartment and commit such an unspeakable crime. I cannot imagine why.

But all of the news has made me think about the issue of mental health. Mental illness takes on many forms, and I am grateful for the Junior Leagues that have in the past, or currently, address aspects of the issue. They include the important work of the Junior League of Cincinnati through its MindPeace project, which raised awareness about the many complex issues impacting children’s mental health and the importance of equal access to appropriate mental health services, including prevention, early screening, intervention, and treatment. And the current work of the Junior League of Los Angeles on perinatal depression awareness, a condition that impacts 10 – 20% of new mothers. And the Junior League of Charlotte’s multi-pronged Healthy Child Initiative, which focuses on the physical, dental and mental health needs of children aged 0-17 years and their families in the Charlotte community.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “Research … shows that mental disorders are common throughout the United States, affecting tens of millions of people each year, and that only a fraction of those affected receive treatment.” There is already talk about whether the shooter in Aurora was “insane” and knew the consequences of his actions or not. Insane or not, he was not healthy.

Our thoughts are with the people of Aurora.

Susan E. Danish
Executive Director
The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc.