Waffle House shooting, other incidents show the burden of dealing with family member with mental illness

While only a small percentage of those with mental illness ever display violent behavior — 3 to 5 percent of all violence is attributable to serious mental illness, according to the American Mental Health Counselors Association — relatives and mental health professionals say the long-standing stigma associated with it persists even as public awareness has increased.

“We see very often family members feel embarrassed or ashamed,” said Alexa James, executive director of the Chicago chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. “It’s a very painful burden for anybody to bear witness or to experience threatening behavior that is associated with a mental health condition.”