I have written mental illness being blamed for violence before. However, I'm still angry. In fact, my anger has increased has this issue continues remain so prevalent.
Everyone is looking for a scapegoat issue. Mental illness is easy. There is no collective voice that I know of to dispel the many misunderstandings and just plain wrong information. But particularly in America, where they can't even pass the weakest of gun legislation, the prevailing attitude is that all people with mental illness are dangerous and inherently prone to abhorrent violence. The truth is of course that those with mental illness are much more likely to be victims of violence or inflict violence on themselves.
Jail us all. It won't stop violence.?
Worse, I believe that this thinking has bled into Canada. We are so overwhelmed by American media it has to colour our attitudes.
This demonization of mental illness, along with a serious lack of professional understanding medical treatment and community support, almost guarantees this attitude will continue. Blame is always heaped on those misunderstood, marginalized and without means to defend themselves. The media ignores the facts, most buying into this perception. It's easier than delving indepth into the issue of mental illness and violence. It's lazy journalism and perpetuates misconceptions (to put it mildly).
I am dumbfounded. I don't know what I should do. Speak up certainly. But will anyone hear, will anyone pay attention, will anyone do something? There are many organizations in Canada that support people with mental illness, that speak on our behalf and attempt to educate.
It's time we encourage them to by more public. Barrage them with email, letters, phone calls. Get them to be more vocal, more proactive and put this issue in the proper context on the public agenda.
It's time to turn our anger into effective action.