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Mental Health and Gun Violence Poll

Responses to survey of mental health professionals on gun violence.

February 20, 2013, Adelphi University CHI Poll: Mental Health and Gun Violence

In the wake of horrific mass killings, like December’s Newtown shooting, mental health professionals have weighed in on a vital national debate on ways to prevent and cope with deadly community disasters through the Adelphi University Center for Heath Innovation Poll released today. This poll was conducted among a random sample of 100 mental health professionals, including psychologists, psychiatrists, LICSWs, LISWs and CSW-Cs and it focused on mental health and gun violence.

According to the recent survey by Wakefield Research for Adelphi University, key takeaways from this Adelphi University CHI Poll include:

  • A majority (62%) of psychologists, psychiatrists and clinical social workers believe gun law reforms are more likely to help prevent gun violence than reforming the mental healthcare system.
  • Committing a Patient. What are legally permissible grounds for committing a patient? The current standard is based on the patient stating a specific intention to harm themselves or others, which 92% of mental health professionals agree with. However, many think laws should extend even further – 41% believe patients should be committed if they allude to harming themselves or others, and nearly 1 in 10 (9%) would even base the law on a “gut feeling.”

The Poll also asked about the public perception of seeking mental healthcare and our communities’ capacity to meet the mental health changes of both natural and man-made disasters.  The Poll found:

  • Most (90%) mental health professionals in the U.S. think there is a public stigma in their communities associated with being treated for a mental illness.
  • 51% of poll respondents felt celebrities would be best suited to educate the public about mental health and could be the most effective ally in reducing the stigma surrounding mental healthcare. Traditional community leaders, including both teachers (42%) and church organizations (40%), would also be trusted.  Politicians make the laws, but that doesn’t mean faith is placed in them – a mere third (35%) believe they would be most effective in reducing the mental healthcare stigma.

The University released additional results from this Poll at its CHI Continuum of Care Symposium held at Adelphi University on February 12, 2013.

» See the Mental Health Preparedness and Disaster Response Poll results


How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement – there is a public stigma in my community associated with being treated for mental illness:

Response Percent
Agree strongly 27%
Agree somewhat 63%
Disagree somewhat 9%
Disagree strongly 1%
Quick Facts Percent
Agree 90%
Disagree 10%

Which of the following groups, if any, would be the most effective allies in reducing the stigma surrounding mental healthcare? Please choose the two that you think would be the most effective: 

Response Percent
Celebrities 51%
Teachers 42%
Church organizations 40%
Politicians 35%
Addiction and recovery centers 17%
Parent Teacher Associations 15%

Which of the following do you think is more likely to help prevent gun violence?

Quick Facts Percent
Reforming gun laws 62%
Reforming the mental healthcare system 38%

How strongly do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Mental healthcare professionals should be required to notify an official when they believe a patient is likely to harm themselves or others:

Response Percent
Agree strongly 82%
Agree somewhat 16%
Disagree somewhat 2%
Disagree strongly 0%
Quick Facts Percent
Agree 90%
Disagree 10%

In your opinion, which of the following should be legally permissible grounds for committing a patient?

Response Percent
The patient states a specific intention to harm themselves or others 92%
The patient alludes to harming themselves or others 41%
A “gut feeling” that the patient will harm themselves or others 9%

Poll Methodology: The Adelphi University Center for Health Innovation Poll was conducted by Wakefield Research (wakefieldresearch.com) among 100 mental health professionals, defined as psychologists, psychiatrists, LICSWs, LISWs, and CSW-Cs, between January 25 and February 4, 2013, using an email invitation and an online survey. Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 9.8 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.
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