Every time there is a mass shooting or a horrific criminal act, the news brings up the mental health history of the person who committed these crime. Television crime dramas also indicate the reason for the killer’s actions is mental illness. In fact, both dramas and news shows hardly ever portray those with mental illness as not dangerous. They never state the facts. Instead they go over and over the fact that a person’s mental illness drove him or her to do such awful things. This places a stigma on all those who have mental illness. People become afraid of those suffering with such an illness when they have no need to.
Carrie Barron M.D in her article, “Mental Illness Does Not Equal Dangerous, Mostly,” at Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-creativity-cure/201509/mental-illness-does-not-equal-dangerous-mostly) states, “Most mentally ill people are not dangerous. In fact, only 3-5% of firearm assaults are linked to people with serious mental illness and those with mental illness are more likely than others to be the victim of a crime.”
In an article called “Gun Violence and Mental Illness: Myths and Evidence-Based Facts” by Joel Miller posted 10-03-2017 13:26, on American Mental Health Counselors Association website (http://www.amhca.org/blogs/joel-miller/2017/10/03/gun-violence-and-mental-illnessmyths-and-evidence-based-facts), Miller states, “People with serious mental illness are rarely violent. Only 3 to 5 percent of all violence, including but not limited to firearm violence, is attributable to serious mental illness. The large majority of gun violence toward others is not caused by mental illness.”
If most people who are suffering from mental illness are only dangerous to themselves, then why is it when a crime is committed, they point out a person’s mental illness? Yes, there are circumstances where a person’s illness is severe, untreated and psychotic enough that they carry out awful crimes, but these are only a small percentage. The majority of those who suffer with such an illness have hurt no one, but themselves. No one seems to mention that on television.
I, a person with mental illness, find it insulting that we are all represented by the few who are dangerous to others. Many people fear treatment because they are afraid society will label them as a danger to all. I’ve faced this stigma myself. I lost friends because they feared I might hurt them. I had a manager where I worked tell me because I have a mental illness I was a danger to customers and employees, yet the only person I ever hurt was myself. Those who know me well know I could never hurt another person, yet I got labeled dangerous because I suffer with a mental illness.
My plea to show producers and news reporters is, “Don’t blame all crimes on those with mental illness, and if it is their illness that drove them to do it, tell the facts. Tell America and the whole world that most people with mental illness are not violent. Encourage those who are not getting help to seek help and they will not be judged.”
It’s up to us who struggle with mental illness to let our voices be heard. Write letters to your news stations, write articles, post blogs, and write to whoever you can think of. Don’t let yourself be labeled as dangerous. Show the world you are not harmful.
I do my part in speaking for those who have mental illness with my blog and other writings. I plan on finding other ways to educate society about those with mental illness. Who is with me? Who is willing to stand up for yourself and all others struggling with mental illness? Who else is sick of being stuck behind the stigma that all with mental illness are dangerous? If you are with me pull out, your pens and computers and start writing. Tell the world and show the world we are good, harmless people. Together we can make a difference.
I proudly teach, encourage and dispel stigma about mental illness with my writing. I plan to let my voice be heard through my blog and much more. Because I’m willing to fight stigma, I stand proudly in a new light, a light of acceptance, of understanding, and of encouragement.