May is Mental Health Awareness Month

New mental health awareness content to kick off our 1 year anniversary


Rick Weiss, Dr. Anitha Iyer, Dr. Victoria Kisslinger

4/29/20244 min read

All month long, mental health advocates are engaging in creative and effective ways to raise awareness about the critical role that mental health plays in our sense of safety and well-being. What’s true for the general public is particularly true for young people who face the specter of gun violence in their schools and communities. There is growing bipartisan consensus that young people themselves, mental health care professionals and pediatricians are on the front lines for the care of young people and mental health treatment is an important deterrent to suicide and violence involving firearms.

Board certified pediatrician, Dr. Victoria Kisslinger has a busy 20+ year practice in suburban Pittsburgh, PA. She says that:

“People aren’t generally aware that pediatricians are on the front line of mental health treatment. We address our patients’ mental health therapy directly and work with psychiatrists and other behavioral health specialists to help manage mental health crises in kids. It is a routine pediatric schedule now to have multiple visits a week dedicated to mental healthcare intervention of some sort.”

One of the “conservative” messages she offers is that clinical research actually bears out that kids need parents to set limits and provide structure for kids to feel safe:

“Those limits include the traditional parental rules, but also safe homes with gun storage that prevents access, along with monitored screen/social media time and frequent check-ins that keep parents attentive to the emotional ups and downs of their children. I also believe that gun trauma in schools and our community contributes to heightening children’s state of social anxiety. The inaction and inability of adults to agree on commonsense national gun laws has created a lack of trust and disbelief that adults are capable of creating a safe space for children.”

Dr. Kisslinger was an early contributor and constant promoter of “WYHMN?” and we are truly grateful for her continued commitment to our mission.

Dr. Anitha Iyer is the Director of Behavioral Health Population Management at Mount Sinai Health Partner. She is moderating our May Roundtable: WYHMN - Youth Discuss Gun Violence and Mental Health. She cites data:

"... linking chronic stress from exposure to violence and the threat of experiencing violence as leading to both short-term psychological harm, as well as more long term chronic illnesses, both medical and psychological. Emerging “epigenetic data” raises concern that chronic stress (related to violence and the threat of violences) isn’t just lifelong but could be “transgenerational.”

Meaning it could be passed down to our children’s children. We welcome Dr. Iyer to the WYHMN? team for the deep clinical and research insights she brings us as well as for her passion for gun safety and gun sense advocacy.

Mental Health Awarness Month

It Can’t Stop With Mental Health

The input from these healthcare professionals is only part of the reason why we do not believe that addressing mental health stops at the shooters or is by itself, an effective deterrent to the gun violence young people are concerned about today. Dr. Iyer adds, “In the aftermath of a mass shooting incident, there is considerable discussion in the public realm about mental health. However, these discussions pay little to no attention to the mental health of survivors.”

Mental healthcare is an important part, but it is only half of the equation. This is why we continue to reach out to gun sense and firearm safety advocates in other organizations, including Brady United, Moms Demand Action and Everytown for partnerships and the research insights these organizations have blazed.

This May is also the first year anniversary of the founding of WillYouHearMeNow? We’ll spend a bit more time later this coming month reviewing what we’ve managed to accomplish in our year of existence, but for now we want to make you aware of the brand new content we’re producing for Mental Health Awareness Month.

  • A new series of interviews drops from kids around the country expressing their concerns about the connection between gun violence and their own mental health. You’ll learn that even kids who don’t have direct experience of gun violence do have mental health impacts and concerns. *You can see those interviews here.

  • Dr. Iyer will be moderating our May Roundtable: WYHMN - Youth Discuss Gun Violence and Mental Health with five high school and college students. *You can find that Roundtable here.

[*We’ll post links as they become available. Bookmark this page and return.]

WillYouHearMeNow? is a unique forum for young people to raise their voices against firearm violence and for mental wellness. We’ve enhanced our Next Steps page to be the home for self-directed interviews (selfies) by concerned students and youth safety advocates beginning in May and continuing throughout the year. Do you want to add your insights? Email us and we’ll send you a “selfie package” to get you started. More than ever before we want to hear from you, the youth, parents and adult professionals who are committed to making young voices heard as a deterrent and balance to the conflicted emotions and violent outcomes we all too often experience in American society.

To learn more about “Will You Hear Me Now?” email us at To help us with post-production and distribution of our upcoming film, please visit our GoFundMe and give what you can. To stay on top of our project in real time, check back here often. Follow us on Facebook and on Twitter/X at We’ve just added a petition to help us drive traffic and amplify the voices of students, who, though too young to vote, need to make their voices and concerns heard. You can find that petition here or scan the QR code to go to the site and sign up.