Mental health is one of the most widely discussed topics in media today, with a broad range of conversations from stigmas to treatments. Unfortunately, media depictions or portrayals of mental illness often rely on stereotypes that mischaracterize and misunderstand the real-life experience of many people with mental illnesses or mental health conditions.

Mental Health and Media

Things need to change, when something bad happens, like crimes, the media is quick blame it on mental illness, it’s what they seemingly always do and this is nothing new. Regarding many heartbreaking events lately, the event in Waukesha, Wisconsin and in Michigan with the latest high school shooting by a 15 year old boy. Then the random attacks done by some homeless in LA and New York brought me to be really bothered by all these situations and how heartless and evil they were but at the same time I was, and I am, also bothered by the fact, again, in the media, they say “it’s because they suffered from a mental illness”. Without knowing any facts about the person besides a long rap sheet of crimes usually or sometimes someone said they suffered from mental illness problems, They say…”These mentally ill left untreated homeless people on the streets committing these crimes”, and that they were “mentally ill” regarding the Waukesha Christmas parade and the Michigan school shooter. That’s what is said all over national news, social media etc right away. That’s the message that’s coming across the airwaves loud and clear again. Everything that is evil and results in killing, they blame it on mental illness, on the same places they say it’s okay to suffer from a mental illness and not to be ashamed about it and we need to stop the stigma. It’s about criminals getting released after committing the crimes rather then being locked up. The soft on crime D.A.s in liberal cities. Like, Los Angeles has released 12,000 criminals back on the street that should be in jail that are dangerous criminals. Gascon, the D.A. for Los Angeles county, is a nightmare, like with the Brianna murder being done by a criminal with a huge track record who was released on a 50,000 bail in 2019. New York and the other big cities are the same.

You see, the world, and commonly the media on mental health, is sending two different messages on the same topic about “mental illness” or “mental health”. One is “mentally ill” people result in horrific tragic killings and the other is it’s ok to suffer from Depression, Anxiety, OCD, etc and “you’re not what the stigma says about mental illness” and you can speak up and get help. It does not work that way.. You can’t send two different messages and expect people to want to get help and not be ashamed of their diagnosis. We have a problem in the health field that many different diseases, being very different, are all still called vaguely “mental illnesses”. They all occur in the brain so they are all labeled “mental illness”, but in the brain the diseases are doing very different things and have very different outcomes in symptoms. There is a spectrum of many different disorders under mental illness but I’m not aware of any that the actual symptoms include killing. I’m not aware of that disorders name, because there isn’t one.

Common Misconceptions about mental illness like Schizophrenia being dangerous

Schizophrenia Is a mental illness that is the most complex one, and you can see strange behavior. You think of it when you see someone yelling at nobody on the side of the street, or acting weird on the street. That is a symptom but there is many symptoms that go along with schizophrenia. In 2013 the DSM-IV was updated to the DSM-V. They combined many diagnoses into one diagnostic and subtypes were eliminated. Now, two categories and instead of one, now two criterion A symptoms are required for any schizophrenia diagnoses. The second change is a requirement in criterion A is they must have one of these three symptoms. Hallucinations, delusions and disorganized speech. They have to have one of these core “positive symptoms”. In these changes, committing Homicide is not a symptom required to have schizophrenia. There are articles by Doctors saying people with schizophrenia can become dangerous, especially 15 fold by mixing schizophrenia and drugs and alcohol. Which can be a very bad problem. Without mixing drugs and alcohol and not taking their medicine they need they are not as likely to become violent and angry. The likelihood is low. Still, with it being a low problem and a chance a schizophrenia could be mixing with drugs and alcohol and became violent is not the reason for all street crimes.. Random attacks, the media quickly blame it on mental illness so bluntly and categorically. To be clear, in all of the above mentioned recent tragic violent events, not a single one of these acts of violence were blamed on schizophrenia let alone schizophrenia combined with drugs or alcohol, they just simply blame it on “mental illness”, the media is being completely unfair in their misrepresentation of mental illness.

The stigma around mental illness created by media, by misrepresenting mental illness

You definitely cannot call killers mentally ill categorically or by definition, it is just not true. This is one of many examples of mental illness stigma in the media. There is no mental illness called “Murderer” or “Killer” or “the one that has symptoms of murder”. We need a name for a type of person that can do such a horrific thing, but it’s not called a mental illness and until we separate these labels and get it out of the category of mental illness, mental illness will continue to be looked down on and will continue to have a stigma and people will not get help and society will still think “killer” in their mind when they hear mental illness.

A bad schizophrenia case because of mixing drugs and alcohol or majorly left untreated is very different from all the other conditions known as mental illness. “Mental illness” is a very big spectrum of diseases. This has to change. I’ve said this before, murder comes from something wrong in the heart and soul. Many wrongs that have not been dealt with for a long time. Hate comes from wounds that were not dealt with time and time again. They have a different way of thinking, stemming from that, not because their brain is wired to kill. Just because they are using their brain to think very bad things it’s not the brain disease causing it, it’s because they think from a very sick heart. People still do think very bad things without it having anything to do with any mental illness. It’s called sin. Not dealing with problems and not dealing with sin, time and time again, results in bad things. Very different bad things that you cannot compare to a person struggling with depression among themselves or anxiety that they have a very hard time getting through their day but is a very good person that could not ever hurt another person and have never ever had any type of those thoughts or never could. Two very different worlds, a night and day difference but they share the same medical label.

There are certain times where a mental illness can create some very abnormal thinking, like I explained with schizophrenia, that’s different than the average person including things like talking to things, or thinking you’re a soda machine and really believing that, hearing voices or having hallucinations, and that’s one of the worst things that can happen. Regardless, they are still kind, harmless people that don’t have a intent to kill. A lot of the problem is the media and what the world says when it could be someone on drugs doing weird things or resulting in hurting people, still they resort to always quickly labeling violent criminals and murders and chalking it up to “mentally ill” people.

Addiction, in the general sense, is considered a Mental Illness

Addiction is also a mental illness, but the drugs are drugs and the drugs result in bad consequences with a mental illness mixed in or not. Someone could be addicted to Starbucks, like me, because of an addition-like personality, which could be a characteristic, for example, of someone with OCD, but as for myself, I know to put limits on it or I could drink more Starbucks then I already do! I know what edges not to get close to and I know that by watching the habits of people that have went on those paths of getting addicted to bad things to help numb the pain of their problems. I know not to drink alcohol and would never touch any drugs and I’m very careful what medicine I take because I know the habits of people with OCD and that I could also get addicted to that much easier. I’ve had a eating disorder, a very bad one. I know what can happen in other areas and I won’t even get close. So, I don’t touch certain things for those reasons and morale reasons. I know what could happen to me in the future based on what has happened in the past like an eating disorder. I know and understand the disease and I know what and what not to do to avoid future pitfalls and I don’t get close to the fire. If I didn’t treat the disease with caution I could have resulted in many different pathways like some get stuck in, because of the addictive traits that come from OCD genes, finding themselves needing to comfort themselves from the pain of having problems and it can turn into a much bigger mess with any disease.

That stuff does happen with many disorders within the spectrum of mental illnesses all the time, but it’s what your doing on top of to comfort your mental illness that could bring in very bad consequences, but it’s not going to result in plotting a massive shooting and killing people. That’s so far from the minds of people with mental illness problems and it’s such a line that needs to be drawn in the sand to stop putting us all together in the same boat. People don’t know how to explain these disgusting situations that happen, like the examples I started this post with. They just resort to blaming it on mental illness and that’s something the medical field needs to figure out, and start instead calling killers for what they are, killers. It is not fair to keep calling them mentally ill when it’s something else usually and that’s their job to separate them or people will not speak up and get help no matter what people like me try to do for the people who are hurting and need help.

Mental Illness vs. Evil

Evil is in the world and will be in the world until there is just heaven and no more sin. People tend to overlook that fact and have to blame it on something else like the evil in this world is not what it is. They can’t grasp what evil does and will do because the world has overlooked sin and what sin is capable of in people. No one talks about how much sin is in people’s lives because then they are called a unloving person and let them live their life is the attitude everyone has these days. Well, with all this happening anyone who sends this message to the masses or in their own little circle stomps on everything we do every time a new tragedy happens in this world. I’m not them and I will never be one of them. Britney Spears, as a example of who everyone knows, who has a mental illness, is not one of them, but yet that’s what the media is implying when they say what they are saying about mental health in the media! Think about it! It has to stop and I’ve had enough of it and something needs to be done! If nothing is done and we let the media just keep saying, vaguely, “its because of mental illness!”, so widespread across so many things then more and more people will keep losing their life to suicide because they never got the help they needed or love from the people that needed to love on them and help them cause they never knew how serious a problem was with someone they loved because of society and what society would think of them.

A Call to Action for top Mental Illness Organizations

To the following organizations, I’m calling on you to do your part to make a change to help this problem of the media and public figures constantly blaming murderers or violent crime, categorically blaming on mental illness resulting in severely stigmatizing all the innocent people out there with a mental illness that would never do things like that, which is like 99.9% of us.