The Echo

Mental Health Awareness Week: Stigmas intensified following shooting

Negative attention to mental health creates misconceptions

Following most mass shootings in modern American history, including the most recent in Las Vegas, discussion occurs regarding the shooter’s mental status. 

While the shooter’s mental health is definitely a factor to analyze in the investigation, it is often unacceptably used as a scapegoat to distract from other real underlying issues.

The mentality created by spotlighting mental illness after mass shootings is twofold; that mentally ill people are more likely to commit crimes, and that tragedies such as the Las Vegas shooting are only committed by the mentally ill.

This is not the truth. According to the National Institutes of Health, less than 3-5 percent of American crimes involve mentally ill people.

Giving mental health negative attention following a tragedy only serves to worsen the preexisting stigma surrounding the topic. People living with mental disorders are already labeled as “unstable,” “crazy” and other stereotypes. “Dangerous” does not need to be added to that list.

In a study on the general public by HealthAffairs, 24 percent of people believed those living with a mental illness were far more dangerous than someone without. This shows the widespread misunderstanding of mental illness in America, and the fear of that unknown reaches a troubling amount of people.

The misconception that people with mental illnesses are violent only adds to the stigmatization and judgment of mental health.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, only 25 percent of adults with symptoms of a mental illness believe others are sympathetic of those with mental illnesses. That means the majority of people with a mental disorder feel stigmatized, and that is completely inappropriate for the progressive society we live in.

The reality is, the vast majority of people living with a mental illness would not and could not commit mass murder. Most live peaceful, nondestructive lives, and reacting to a mass shooting by drawing untrue or uneducated assumptions about mental illness invalidates that.

Making a mass murderer the poster child of mental illness grossly misrepresents the average American living with a mental illness, which is one in five adults, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

What ideally should happen following a crime involving a person with a mental disorder is that awareness should be raised. Focus should be placed on educating the public about how to identify and get help for themselves or loved ones with a mental illness. Mental illnesses need to be treated like physical illnesses: real, valid and treatable.

If the stigma around mental illness is lessened, people struggling severely can get the help they need before they end up in the headlines for committing a crime.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.


Email This Story






About the Writer
Elise Riley, Sports Editor
Oh hey there! Odds are I’m currently wearing at least one Nebraska-themed clothing item right now (could be a bikini, sweatshirt, t shirt, sweatpants, socks, necklace, snuggie, towel, hat, pajamas..but hey who’s counting??). I’m famous for listening to the Beatles all day long 8 days a week (lol you would get the reference if you...
Leave a Comment

The Echo intends for this area to be used to foster healthy, thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to our standards and to be respectful and constructive. Furthermore, we do not permit any of the following inappropriate content including: Libel or defamatory statements, any copyrighted, trademarked or intellectual property of others, the use of profanity and foul language or personal attacks. All comments are reviewed and approved by staff to ensure that they meet these standards. The Echo does not allow anonymous comments, and requires a name and valid email address submitted that are variable. This email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments. Online comments that are found in violation of these policies will be removed as quickly as possible. Please direct any further questions to [email protected]

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




Navigate Right
Navigate Left
  • Mental Health Awareness Week: Stigmas intensified following shooting

    Opinion Columns

    OPINION: Ilhan Omar, a luke-warm candidate

  • Mental Health Awareness Week: Stigmas intensified following shooting

    Opinion Columns

    IB Diploma proves worthwhile for candidates

  • Mental Health Awareness Week: Stigmas intensified following shooting

    Opinion Columns

    Grad parties prove specialized

  • Mental Health Awareness Week: Stigmas intensified following shooting

    Opinion Columns

    Recent shootings cause increase in school security

  • Mental Health Awareness Week: Stigmas intensified following shooting

    Opinion Columns

    Congressional testimony, scandal elicits controversy

  • Mental Health Awareness Week: Stigmas intensified following shooting

    Opinion Columns

    Potential IB Hebrew termination loss for Park

  • Mental Health Awareness Week: Stigmas intensified following shooting

    Opinion Columns

    Comedy delegitimizes struggles of domestic violence victims

  • Mental Health Awareness Week: Stigmas intensified following shooting

    Opinion

    Spring break misses passover by a week

  • Mental Health Awareness Week: Stigmas intensified following shooting

    Opinion

    Updates to Minnesota voter registration salient

  • Mental Health Awareness Week: Stigmas intensified following shooting

    Opinion Columns

    Mass shooting prompts unproductive debate cycle

The student news site of St. Louis Park High School
Mental Health Awareness Week: Stigmas intensified following shooting