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Gun violence-related mental health concerns in Kentucky carry community impacts

University of Kentucky

Gun violence carries an impact in many different ways. That includes mental stress, even for those not directly involved in an incident.

Dr. Allen Brenzel said those in mental health have long been concerned about the impact of violence on communities, particularly children. Dr. Brenzel is the medical director for the Kentucky Department of Behavioral Health.

The effects of gun violence can be seen throughout a community. And although it is always tragic for the victim and the victim’s family, the lingering impact can extend much further. Brenzel said being near gun violence can have a lasting effect.

“Kids develop a for-shortened sense of the future. And they start to be less likely to focus on future goals and what they might want to be and what they might want to do when the grow up. And they end up living day to day and they have a sense of doom and a sense that they may be victims,” said Brenzel.

Brenzel said it’s important to foster positive mental health. The behavioral health doctor said a new initiative is called ‘the Partnership for a Resilient Society.

“This is a little bit turning things on its head because we know the effects of adverse childhood experiences. But, what we want to focus more on is how do we create resiliency by promoting positive childhood experiences,” said Brenzel.

Dr. Brenzel said the Partnership is a network of organizations working to support young people and families. He said that can create opportunities for healthy and safe development.

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