Blaming gun violence in America on mental illness is not the answer, but go off.
A majority of tweets I came across yesterday in the aftermath of yet another (actually 2) mass shootings this past week have been blaming mental illness.
Here is the issue with that…
I haven’t seen anyone with an ACTUAL MENTAL HEALTH BACKGROUND tweet these things.
Jumping automatically to mental illness is unfair, unfounded, and illogical.
Hell, even a MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL wouldn’t be able to accurately make a statement regarding one’s mental health without a formal/proper evaluation with the individual.
Most of these stigmatizing tweets are from the general public (or even politicians) with absolutely no psych/medical background.
If what is to blame is the vague “mental illness” response, what IS the mental health diagnosis in question?
What are the specific symptoms?
If you blame mental illness but cannot even NAME a single mental illness in relation to the person, how does that even make sense?
When calling for reform of the mental health system (that isn’t really a thing here, but ok), what specifically needs to be done?
[I am aware that blaming mental illness is a distraction to avoid the real issues of racism, xenophobia, toxic hatred, access to lethal weapons, & such… but let’s say mental illness IS what needs to be ‘fixed’ here.]
What do we need?
More funding? Where? For mental health organizations? To build more psych clinics? To make psych ERs better? To researchers in the mental illness field?
More research? On lack of access to mental health professionals? On misdiagnoses? On how to prevent “revolving door” patients? On ‘severe/serious mental illness?’ On those with a violent history? On factors which contribute to gun violence and how that relates to the mentally ill population (if it even does)?
More money? Raising salaries of Master’s level therapists/mental health professionals to draw more people to the field?
More opportunities? Creating scholarships to fund the education for more therapists, clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, school psychologists, licensed clinical social workers…?
More training? More mental health-specific training for jobs such as police officers, teachers, healthcare workers?
More psychoeducation? Education about mental illnesses at school, possibly starting as early as at the elementary school level?
The APA recently released a statement regarding mass shootings and mental illness:
“Routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing.” -APA statement
It is time to change the stigmatizing mindset, one that links horrific gun violence with those with mental illness.
It is time to challenge the idea that blaming mental illness will change anything.
It is time to acknowledge the harm that pointing the finger at mental illness does to those who fight their conditions and symptoms each and every day. Don’t make us have to fight this stigmatizing view as well.
P.S. If you want to blame mental illness, at least DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT. Give mental health hospitals, organizations, and researchers more funding. Help those who are struggling to pay for their medications, therapy sessions, hospital bills, and appointments.
If you think that mental illness is the issue, yet you do nothing to improve the lives of those with mental illness, what are you actually accomplishing?