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Young survivors of gun violence call for more mental health support

Three of the mothers spearheading the development of the New Haven Botanical Garden of Healing Dedicated to Victims of Gun Violence take a look at the temporary sign they created after a few hours of work in the garden.
Ryan Lindsay
/
WNPR
Three of the mothers spearheading the development of the New Haven Botanical Garden of Healing Dedicated to Victims of Gun Violence take a look at the temporary sign they created after a few hours of work in the garden.

In the past year, Montreal Morrison has attended 13 funerals mostly for young people under the age of 18. Morrison is a youth mentor and founder of Company Youth Leadership.

"The mental health piece when it comes down to gun violence is significant," Morrison said. Many students are not going to school because they are depressed or have suffered trauma and anxiety, he said.

State legislators gathered in a virtual forum, Wednesday to listen to community voices impacted by gun violence. Young people and leaders affected by the crisis helped lead the conversation.

Morrison, says young people facing gun violence need support that meets them where they are. He says it's a 24/7 job to form relationships that could prevent escalation.

Dayzra Bournes agreed. Speaking at the virtual forum, Bournes said she's lost two friends to gun violence this year, which left her struggling with her mental health. On her own time, she took up learning psychology and came across the term 'complex post-traumatic stress disorder.' A condition where you might experience symptoms of PTSD along with additional symptoms like constant feelings of emptiness or hopelessness.

"When I saw the symptoms, it reminded me of myself because I went through a lot of traumatic experiences starting from the age of 10 to being 20," recalled Bournes. "There's one in five children will experience a mental disorder, and only twenty percent of them will get treatment for that."

Bournes said she hopes these needs are met in her community, beyond just school services.

Brenda León is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms. Brenda covers the Latino/a, Latinx community with an emphasis on wealth-based disparities in health, education and criminal justice.

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