February 28, 2013

Gun Violence Poll: Majority of Mental Health Professionals Back Gun Control

Less Than 4 in 10 Think Mental Health Reforms Are the Answer

Published February 28, 2013 on

» Listen to the audio interview featuring Adelphi’s Dr. Jonathan Jackson.

» See the CHI Poll on Mental Health and Gun Violence.

A new poll on gun violence found a majority of mental health professionals think gun control reforms are the best way to prevent future mass shootings.

A random sampling of 100 psychiatrists, psychologists, clinical social workers and other mental health professionals from Adelphi University found a full 62 percent believe gun reforms are more likely to help prevent gun violence than reforming the mental healthcare system. Thirty-eight percent said reforming mental healthcare is the answer to cutting down on gun violence.

jonathan jackson
Dr. Jonathan Jackson

“It’s interesting to us that mental health professionals are putting their money more heavily on reforming the gun laws,” Adelphi’s director of psychological services Dr. Jonathan Jackson told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs.

The Adelphi University Center for Heath Innovation Poll was conducted in the wake of recent mass killings,
including the Dec. 14 school massacre in Newtown, Conn.

Jackson said the poll shows that it’s clear gun control reforms and mental health reforms are needed
to tackle this problem, Xirinachs reported.

“We’re moving in the direction in this country where law enforcement and mental health are going to work together,” Jackson said. “They’re willing to do their part. They know that they have a role to play in being able to detect and try to influence disturbed people against committing acts of violence, but they can’t do it alone. They need the help of law enforcement.”

The respondents also overwhelmingly said more needs to be done to reduce the stigma of getting help.

More than half of those polled said celebrities are best suited to educate the public about mental health. Celebrities polled higher than community leaders, church organizations and politicians as effective allies to reduce the stigma of mental health.

And while 92 percent of respondents think the current laws regarding committing a patient are sufficient, 41 percent would expand the rules further to allow involuntary commitment if the patient alludes to harming themselves or others.

The poll was conducted by Wakefield Research for Adelphi University. The online poll of 100 mental health professionals was conducted from Jan. 25 to Feb. 4. According to pollsters, in this 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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