March 26, 2022
Today, twenty-one families, who should be celebrating the end of the school year and eagerly awaiting summer vacations, are now planning funerals and facing a lifetime of grief. Our hearts are with each of these families, with those children who were present at the school, and with so many other families that are re-living their own tragedies.
After the tragic events in Uvalde, Texas; Buffalo, New York; and 200+ communities this year alone, we hear renewed debate about guns in the United States. We also see fingers pointing at people with mental illness to serve as scapegoats, only preserving stigmas about mental health. Our country is indeed in the midst of a mental health crisis. The sad reality is that mental health issues are common worldwide, but the United States still stands apart in its number of mass shootings. We must address gun violence and protect our communities from this appalling violence and lasting trauma.
As mental health professionals, art therapists see the horrific aftermath of such tragic events in communities across the country. They are often called in—or volunteer their own time—to help people, families, and communities grieve and heal, particularly when children are involved. Art therapists work with the individuals and communities we serve to support a safe, inclusive, and just society where all people can flourish.
As an organization, the American Art Therapy Association urges state and federal lawmakers to look at all policies and laws that impact gun violence. Our society must make mental health care more accessible, affordable, and equitable—year-round and not just after a tragedy. We also firmly believe that our society must address systemic issues like racism, classism, and sexism that often contribute to violent acts. On behalf of our art therapist members, we call on lawmakers and community leaders to make policy changes on all fronts to prevent the next shooting tragedy from happening.
We invite our members to support each other and share resources on our AATA member forum. We are also sharing some resources from our mental health coalitions below.
Mental Health and Advocacy Resources
- The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Mental Health by the Numbers
- The American Psychological Association (APA): Helping your children manage distress in the aftermath of a shooting
- The Child Mind Institute: Caring for Kids After a School Shooting
- The American Counseling Association (ACA): Gun Violence Trauma Resources
- The National Education Association (NEA): Talking to Students About the Texas Elementary School Shooting
- Students Demand Action
- Every Town For Gun Safety
- Texas Gun Safe