July 31st, 2012
This Denver-based consultant previously worked for twelve years in health philanthropy as senior program officer with the Rose Community Foundation of Denver and as vice president of programs for the Colorado Health Foundation.
A week after the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado, the Denver Post headline read “Suspect sent notebook to CU before rampage.” The earliest accounts of the Aurora rampage focused on the details of the shooting; the first public debates centered on gun control. Then, we began to learn about the victims, both dead and injured. We read that James Holmes, the alleged shooter, is a smart, isolated young man. Days later, and, then only if we read the last paragraphs of a news story, we learned he’d been studying neuroscience and was deeply interested in the genetics of mental illness and also that he was seeing a mental health professional—details that may turn out to be central, as they did in the Virginia Tech massacre and in many of these all-too-common killing sprees.
It’s tough to find a health foundation that is willing to take the lead in mental health. This isn’t to say that there haven’t been laudable efforts to meet the mental health needs of the underserved; there have been. However, there’s still a vacuum of philanthropic leadership in mental health. And it has cost us—not just in the Aurora and Columbine High School mass killings and the other such killings that have occurred in the intervening decade between those two tragedies, but in the suffering of millions who have untreated mental illnesses. Read the rest of this entry »