Fighting Stigma

Posted by Patricia / on 07/26/2013 / 0 Comments

Fight Stigma 
-Use your Voice and Experience of Mental Illness-

More and more mental illness is linked with violence in the media. I reality only 4% of violent crimes are committed by people with mental illness.  People with a mental illness are 11% more likely to be the victims of violent crimes.  The letter below is my response to my local papers recent front page article titled: 'SOMETHING DARK IS HAPPENING' Rampant U.S. shootings require gun laws, turn-ins and mental health funding.
My letter didn't get in the paper yet but one titled: 'Must 300M suffer for one madman' did get published.  This letter called for locking up all guns from the mentally ill.  In the letter is phrase: 'students mowed down by a crazy person.'   The writer shifted the focus of the increasing gun violence to a focus on mental health issues and the need for more guns.

Dear Editor:
As a person with mental illness and a professional in the field of peer recovery I find it disheartening and troublesome when guns and mental illness are linked together.  It insights too much emotion especially for individuals with mental illness.  You see your building upon years and years of long held systems of belief and the yoke of stigma the mentally ill must endure daily.

Because of this stigma; we are a population that has somehow become the explanation why evil people in this world shoot innocent children.  When we wanted to hold our peer groups at one of the Cape's Community Centers were told were not welcome when children are in the building. I am a mother of four adult children how do you think they feel knowing these things? 

As a population who struggle with their identity and self-worth how much harder is it to recover and continue in recovery when you are looked upon and treated differently by much of the public?  I often wonder; do we carry some darkness within our soul or mark upon our forehead that others see and we don't?  Are we the monsters under children's beds or in their dreams?  Do we really look that different or scary?

Why can't there just be just evil people who do perverse and evil things.  Why do they have to be labeled mentally ill?  We are not an excuse for the unexplained horrors people commit upon one another.  We simply are just trying to make sense of our lives and find hope when so many say, "there is no hope for you."

It goes beyond the availability of a gun for those who kill finally themselves with a gun.  It's about trying to make sense of our lives and illness among the stigma within a world that fears, misunderstands and many times doesn't want to communicate with us.  People with mental illness can die in many ways during their life.   When a person comes to a point of killing themselves they are already dead inside. 

To Make Change and truly help the mentally ill the goal is to prevent those other deaths.   

Mary E. Munsell
Hyannis, MA
April 18, 2013



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