Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Stop Blaming Mental Illness for Violence

kirsten with purple short hair looks sad but you only see her left eye and side of her face; a purple text box with white text: "Stop Blaming Mental Illness for Violence" and "Not Standing Still's Disease"

This post is based a bit on a Twitter rant I went on this morning. (BTW stats I'm citing can be found at NAMI, NIAMH, CDC, and SAMHSA - a post will go up on Chronic Sex tomorrow with more info.)

It's Mental Illness Awareness Week. Instead of breaking down stigmas, many of us are having to avoid media spouting ableist rhetoric. Hell, even Jimmy Kimmel's monologue from last night that's gotten so much praise is full of ableism.

Did you not recognize the ableism in that speech, or do you not care?

Parts of Kimmel's monologue last night were good. However, his rant against the lifting of an ableist bill was troubling. Why? Those of us who are mentally ill are far more likely to be killed than to kill. We are up to four times as likely to be the victim of a violent crime than to be a perpetrator of one.

As someone who is mentally ill, I am tired of people falling back on mental illness as the cause of all violence. This is especially true this week.

26% of American adults have a mental illness, and 25% of those are 'serious' - including me and my PTSD-riddled noggin. Around 70% of adults with mental illness also have a non-mental chronic illness. Living with both lead to a 4x chance that you'll die early.

Those of us within the queer or LGBTQQIA2+ community? Over twice as likely to struggle with mental health. About the same can be said for those of us with physical health issues. Mental illness race breakdown in adults:
  • 20% - white & black
  • 16% - Latinx
  • 14% - Asian
  • Nearly 30% - Native Americans & Alaskan natives

Society wants to blame us mentally ill for bullshit. They refuse to address the roles that Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) or socioeconomic contributions to mental illness. They want to blame our brains for fucking up their world but refuse to address or acknowledge marginalizations that contribute to mental illnesses. 

Marginalizations lead to huge barriers in getting mental health care, including even a diagnosis (let alone treatment), Discrimination (racism, homomisia, etc), access, insurance, poverty, transportation, stigma, & language barriers all contribute to a lack of treatment.

Statistically then, those of us with a ton of marginalizations should be the ones committing violent crimes - but we're not. 95% of violence in the US isn't linked directly to mental illness. Mental health is only brought up when the offender is a white male. Otherwise, racism and Islammisia come into play. 

People need to recognize that some people just fucking suck, regardless of mental health state. As Michael Caine's Alfred said about The Joker, "Some men just want to watch the world burn." Let's take that further, too - either they want to watch the world burn or they give no fucks about anyone else but themselves. Last I checked, being a selfish asshole was not a mental illness. 

Awful human beings exist, regardless of their mental or physical health state. Being a bigot and wanting to murder people isn't a mental illness issue as much as it's a societal issue.

My mental illnesses don't make me awful any more than having short hair does.

This is supposed to be the one week where we can speak openly about stigmas we face as mentally ill people. Instead, we get to fight ableism from all sides. It's ridiculous and harmful.

Stop with the ableism and harming our communities because you don't grasp humanity's failings. All you're doing is contributing to the stigmas we're trying to fight, making it harder for us to live full lives. You're perpetuating violence against us as you promote ableist ideas.

Please just stop.





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