The Stigma of Mental Illness

I am so sick of everyone in this country calling White mass shooters “mentally ill”. Perhaps they are, perhaps not. But it shows a deep misunderstanding of what it is to be mentally ill and decreases the help in treatment of those of us who are truly mentally ill while further increasing stigma around mental illness.

Diagnosed Bipolar? Be careful, you might crack and go on a shooting spree! Which is complete bullshit.

We need to stop labeling the mass shooters as mentally ill. They are criminals, terrorists. Mental illness has nothing to do with the actions taken by a shooter. In fact, most mentally ill people are more likely to hurt themselves than anyone else.

We need to get rid of the stigma surrounding mental illness in order to start providing proper treatment for those that are mentally ill.

What do you think a person diagnosed with Depression or Anxiety or Bipolar or Schizophrenia starts to believe when an entire nation views mental illness as angry, white men with AR-15’s shooting people?

It makes us feel broken, that we are abnormal in this culture. We internalize these feelings and believe there is no hope for us. We are “evil” in some way. We may break and hurt someone. Which is complete bullshit.

Most mentally ill people are lashing in on themselves—they feel they are to blame for their depression, they are weak. It is some abnormality within myself that creates my sadness, my anxiety, my impulses, my self. I have a personality flaw.

When, in fact, I’m actually sick. I have a real disease called Depression or Anxiety or Bipolar. These things are real, not a part of me, not a character flaw, but an illness just like cancer.

We, as a culture, need to stop demonizing mental illness. We need to stop being afraid of it. You would never say “Try to fake you don’t have cancer. Smile. It’ll go away” to someone with cancer. Why say this to someone with Depression? Why invalidate a whole person’s struggle?

Mental illness needs to be better understood. It is not a character flaw. I’m not going to get better by “faking” it. I have an actual disease that affects my personality. It is dark. It is lethal. It is *real*. I’m not dangerous, I’m not someone to pity. I’m not insane or crazy or abnormal or any of that. I’m just like you, only I have an illness.

And once we accept this and stop thinking mass shooters are the face of mental illness, we truly can start progressing in proper methods of healing our minds.

We need better care. We need more understanding. And we need to dissolve the stigma around mental illness so people can feel comfortable asking for help. So we can improve the treatment of our mental health.

And so those of us with a mental illness don’t have to be so afraid in admitting we have an illness.

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17 Replies to “The Stigma of Mental Illness”

  1. It creates silence, and silence always seems to equal tacit compliance. But speaking up and speaking out like this makes a huge difference. I always appreciate seeing a legitimate voice against the stigmas.

    1. I shared this with a friend and she said this is the exact reason she doesn’t divulge her diagnosis. So many people are living in the shadows because of this stigma. Imagine if employers would allow mental health days. Imagine if everyone could be comfortable saying, “yes, I have an illness. It’s being treated. I’m not broken.”

  2. I love this post! You are 100% correct. I never even stopped a minute to reflect on the gravity of the words used when the media and even the public speak about these horrendous acts of violence. Thank you for opening my eyes and allowing me to hear these words from your ears. ❤️

  3. YES! I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of condemnation for my Bipolar Type 1 Diagnosis not just like mentioned in this post but even in the church crowd I came up in. It was devastating. Thanks to my studies in school and running into the right people at the right time, that pain has greatly faded, but it still creeps in once in awhile. I’m with ya. Thank you.

  4. I’d always supposed it was because the media was lazy and couldn’t think of another word but, as you rightly say, ‘criminal’ works just perfectly. Excellent post and well said something that needs saying :O)

  5. Spot on! Mental illness is genuine for the persons who suffer with it. It definitely isn’t a lazy label for mass shooters. There are many other factors which contribute to that. I used to say that after a school shooting that “This could have been me.” If I had, it wouldn’t have been my mental health or Aspeger’s Syndrome which made me snap. It would have been down to all the bullying and abuse I suffered at the hands of other people on account of it.

  6. Yes, i agree. It is infuriating. It just goes to show how much work there is to educate and to also make them aware of their own need for evaluation. Mental illness, (although i wouldn’t call it illness), after all, is universal. No one is exempt. It is for me a universal DNA. Mental illness is about our humanity, which society stubbornly fights against its relevance.

    Soldier on! Great for you to speak up!

  7. Those of us with mental illnesses are marginalized. I know that I have never been a danger to anyone but myself despite what others have said. My illness is not me.

  8. I agree!!!! Some people,like these school shooters are doing what they want and blaming ” mental illness” ..no they are deranged serial killers that need to be on jail. They use the EXCUSE. threats to schools are made and theres ” mental illness ” help…that’s why the worlds gone completely mad

  9. Preach! There is so much stigma behind people with mental health issues. I am someone who suffers withit. I am not crazy and I am not about to go shoot up a bunch of people because of it. It is so frustrating to even find out some of my friends with mental health issues aren’t hired by employers because of it. The fact that so many people are ignorant about the subject is ridiculous and completely frustrating.

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