The ABCs of Recovery

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An Assault To Mental Health Awareness: The Abusage of “Mental Illness

Introduction

A couple days ago, I was listening to “The View” on my podcast and Rep. Steve Scalise was interviewed after his long recovery—after the Congressional Baseball shooting back in 2017—for his book, “Back in the Game”. It was heartwarming to see the hosts of “The  View” come together and celebrate his miraculous recovery. Until he made this statement:

There’s usually a common thread in a lot of these shooters that there are  mental health issues. We just passed new laws, and they were very bipartisan so they didn’t get a lot attention, but laws that help close a lot of those loopholes and coordinate a lot of mental health problems in this country so that if somebody does have serious mental illness they’re going to be taken care of in a better way. (Brown, 2018)

Mental Illness: A Common Place Name for Lone Wolf Shooters

My smile went upside down. There’s something things wrong with what Scalise said:

  • “Common thread in these issues”? Yes the “common” thread is that most of these shooters who are “mentally ill” are white. According to an article by Ohio State News, 95% of white shooters were painted as mentally ill. This is in contrast to 53%, where Black shooters who were labeled as thugs.

There are (sadly) much research that prove this. One group of researchers looked at 433 news reports containing 219 shootings spanning from January 1, 2013 to December 31 2015, that identified as “mass shootings.” They found that 78% of those articles named the white shooters “mentally ill”, compared to 17% of Black shooters (Jacobs, 2018).

  • Secondly, the “common” thread  apart from being white shooters is that shooters were “victims of society” or were “going through a lot” or “stressed out” or “suffered abuse as a child”. Ha! When has politicians or the news media used that same description to describe Black shooters? Cedric Anderson, a Black shooter who was responsible for a shooting at a San Bernardino school. He left a note regarding himself and his wife (one of the victims of the shooting) on how he needed closure, and feeling disrespected and dishonored (CBS News, 2017). He also was trying to “fix things” and move “forward with no regrets”. The victim’s mother mentioned after Anderson wedded her daughter he quickly showed a darker side and would threatened to throw her out the window (CBS News, 2017). Her daughter thought it was strange he was acting this way, since he was nice to her when she was dating. While he never made a specific threat to shoot her, she didn’t take his threats seriously, because he thought he was trying to get attention from her (CBS News, 2017). And nobody, not the police, the media, nor Trump ever said he had mental illness.
  • The Mental Health Laws That NEVER Was

    • “We just passed new laws, and they were very bipartisan so they didn’t get a lot of attention.” Rep Scalise didn’t even name one. All talk, all fluff. The only thing Trump and his team have ever looked into is the opioid crisis (as if opiods are the only thing that causes mental illness). Most of the bipartisan laws were in the Obama Administration (Mental Health America , n.d). For example:
      • Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act of 2015
      • Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act
      • Prioritizing Veterans Access to Mental Health Care Act of 2015
      • Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act

    A Broken System

    • “But laws help close a lot of those loopholes and coordinate a lot of mental health problems in this country.” Hahaha! What do laws have anything to do with why mental illnesses happen or don’t happen? Leave the diagnosing of mental illness to the mental health professionals. These are the main causes of mental illness (WebMD, 2018):
      •  Biological (ex genetics. prenatal damage)
      • Psychological (ex. severe psychological trauma, neglect)
      • Environmental (dysfunctional family life, social or cultural expectation)

    What I’d like the media, politicians and police to do is get their facts straight on mental illness (especially politicians and the news media), because they keep misconstruing the truth to suit their own needs…or ignorance. They should AT LEAST use a mental health organization for the their references. Like for example, the author, Megan Mermis of the online news article,  Periscope, used NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to better explain how,  as her title explains that “All That Gun Violence Is Not A Mental Health Issue“.

    But we all know that politicians and the news media won’t refer to mental health organizations for facts, because they profit from fear, chaos, and ignorance.

    Enough Is Enough: The Mediocre, Lazy, Nearsighted Views Politicians and The News Media Have on Mental Illness

    But do these politicians, news media, and police work with or look into NAMI, Mental Health America or any other mental health organization source? No. They ignore it or they don’t even bother to look into the information, which I find very upsetting and appalling.

    So sad, so true…

    And I’m also tired of hearing how people mistake having gun control for having the 2nd amendment being challenged. We have regulations on food don’t we? Medicine? Apparently now mental health? And we can’t have any on guns? Really??? I mean for crying out loud…now EVERY sort of lettuce is being taking off grocery shelves (so no more sandwiches for me to take to work) . It’s B.S.. The 2nd amendment hasn’t been applied to people of color.  Check this out:

    • Philando Castile
    • Jemel Roberson
    • Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr.
    • John Crawford III

    Philando Castile had rights to carry a gun and yet got shot. Where was the NRA?

    I myself am afraid of owning and/or carrying a gun because I’m afraid, I might be villanized by the public by the press on being a mentally ill Black woman owning a gun. It’s already hard enough being called the “Angry Black Woman”, EVEN if I DO have the right to be so. When will the 2nd amendment apply to the African American community? I mean the victims I mentioned were gun owners too who had the proper papers and identification…and they were still shot and killed. Never once had the NRA or Trump ever fought for these men who were unlawfully gunned down for holding to the steadfast right to the 2nd amendment. Oh and by the way…they were never mentioned for having mental illness or men of good character or coming from a difficult background.

    Conclusion

    Mental illness has to stop being used as a ruse to either understand a complicated situation or person or to give white mass shooters a lighter sentence or judgement. But most importantly it has to being used as a scapegoat from the elephant in the room: needing to have gun control.

    References

    Brown, L. (2018). Rep. Scalise Explains to “The View” Why His Position on Gun Control Hasn’t Changed After Being Shot. Retrieved from, https://www.google.com/amp/s/townhall.com/tipsheet/laurettabrown/2018/12/04/rep-scalise-explains-to-the-view-why-his-position-on-gun-control-hasnt-changed-after-being-shot-n2536978%3famp=true

    Causes of Mental Illness. (2018). Retrieved from, https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-causes-mental-illness

    Current Mental Health Legislation (n.d.). Retrieved from, http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/issues/current-mental-health-legislation

    Jacobs, T. (2018). Research Shows That White Mass Shooters Are Treated More Sympathetically By The Media. Retrieved from, https://www.google.com/amp/s/psmag.com/.amp/social-justice/white-mass-shooters-are-treated-more-sympathetically-by-the-media

    San Bernardino Shooting: School Murder-Suicide Suspect Left Cryptic Note.(2017) Retrieved from, https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbsnews.com/amp/news/san-bernardino-shooting-school-murder-suicide-suspect-left-cryptic-note/

    White Mass Shooters Receive Sympathetic Media Treatment. (2018). Retrieved from, https://news.osu.edu/white-mass-shooters-receive-sympathetic-media-treatment/

    More Readings

    Are Mass Murderers Insane? Usually Not, Researchers Say

    Does the Second Amendment Protect Only White Gun Owners?

    Fix The Framing: Racism Is Not A System of Mental Illness

    National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month: Prevalence of Adult Mental Illness by Race

  • Well, we finally made it to end of National Minority Mental Health Month. I hope this month will still inspire the continuation of mental health awareness among minority groups and know that mental illness is not weakness. Just as an arm is broken or an ankle is sprained, we need to bring healing to our mental and emotional being. For those of us who work hard for ourselves and especially our families, we need this so we can better carry out our tasks, responsibilities and most importantly, our dreams.