05 Aug Now is not the time to focus on mental illness
By Bart Magee – August 5, 2019
Following this weekend’s horrific attacks that left the country in shock and grief, political leaders including the President have identified mental illness as a cause. Access Institute strongly condemns this rhetoric. Not only is it disingenuous- the same leaders have failed to lead and act to address the very real mental health crisis in our country- but it’s just plain wrong. Calling these attacks a mental illness problem assigns them to discreet individuals and, like blaming video games, effectively trivializes the broad scope and alarming nature of the true problem. In addition, it further stigmatizes the millions of people with mental illness by casting them as potential mass murderers when they are not.
These attacks are acts of terrorism and as such they are attacks on our country, on our communities, and on all of us. They attack our basic freedom to move safely in public spaces. Attackers that adhere to and carry out extremist ideology based in violent racism, attack our values of equality, pluralism, and democracy. They are linked to a political movement that explicitly seeks to start a worldwide race war. In order to deal with them we will need a comprehensive and collective effort to cut off financial (i.e funding and banking resources) and practical (i.e. internet/social media hosting and access to weapons) support for these groups and individuals. We need to assertively counter the toxic ideology, all manifestations of it, everywhere it occurs in society. We need to confront and contain the hatred that fuels it. Once we have that effort organized and mobilized, we can discuss how mental health can be part of efforts aimed at social healing, increased connection, and enhanced well-being. I can assure you that all of us at Access Institute look forward to being part of that conversation.