Mental illness stigma perpetuated by mainstream media

Episodes involving mentally ill individuals should be reported in context

Re: Mental illness costs sizeable (Our View, Jan. 23)

This kind of incendiary content is at the heart of the problem when it comes to the scandalous underfunding of mental health services.

“Political will” to start properly funding a “broader spectrum of care for those battling mental illness” is totally dependent on citizen engagement and pressure on governments to act.

After reading about mentally ill individuals involved in “serious attacks on others and even murder,” “murdering” mom, “incidents of violence” and “stabbing an innocent boy,” no sane person will call their MLA to demand increased funding to help these villains.

Our media is largely to blame for perpetuating the harmful and destructive myth that mental illness equals violence. These false beliefs are at the core of the terrible stigma about mental illness that keeps communities stuck in ignorance. This demonization of the mentally ill thwarts any progressive movement to get better funding, programs and services for people afflicted with debilitating illnesses.

The media must take a more reasoned and informed role in reporting about mental illness. The facts cannot be disputed: the vast majority of incidents of violent behaviour are not committed by people who are mentally ill. And the very low percentage of people who do commit violent acts is exactly the same in the mentally ill population as in the general population, two per cent.

I would love to see more stories about the many talented, amazing people with mental illnesses who are giving so much to this community. They are the rule, not the exception.

Doreen Marion Gee


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