Effective leadership of an organization includes being sensitive to the needs of the people it serves, the staff, and the organization's mission. The day after the Boston Marathon bombings, The Opportunity Alliance CEO Mike Tarpinian sent this email to his staff, acknowledging the impact the bombing has had on people, but also encouraging staff to speak out to correct claims inaccurately suggesting that the perpetrators of violence are violent because they have mental illness. We join Mike in recognizing that we all have opportunities to reduce stigma by sharing accurate information about persons who experience mental illness. We applaud Mike for this sensitive and balanced message, and, with his permission, wanted to share it with the MeHAF community.
From: Mike Tarpinian
Date: April 16, 2013
Subject: Tragedy of Boston Marathon
As I head out of town to spend some time with my family during school vacation, I could not let the events of yesterday go by without connecting with each of you.
Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Boston and to the families of the victims and injured as they begin to face the realities of lost limbs and months of rehabilitation, but none so tragic as the loss of life and especially the loss of a child.
As we try to process the senseless bombing of innocent victims at the finish line of the Boston Marathon, there are many people who are trying to find quick answers to a very complex situation. To begin to explain so soon who would do such a horrific act that would result in the loss of 3 individuals and over 146 injured children and adults seems as senseless as the act itself. But unfortunately some do and already we are hearing that mental illness must have played a role.
I ask each of us if we find ourselves in situations where mental illness is talked about as a reason for this event that we explain that because an individual or groups of individuals carry hatred in their hearts does not mean that they are mentally ill. I ask if we find ourselves in these conversations that we politely direct the conversation to a place of patience and let the investigation lead us to the truth. Our silence in these conversations can only lend credence to the stigma that so many of our friends and colleagues in recovery must feel as they hear these on-going conversations and accusations.
Lastly, let us all reach out to friends who we know isolate themselves during stressful times and assure them that they are not alone, and in cases that merit action, assist them to get the help that they need.
I wish all of you peace of heart, and know that I am thinking of you and your family members during these very difficult times.
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