7 posts tagged news
The lack of mental health care in this country is not more or less at fault for the Sandy Hook shooting than the masculinity problem or lack of adequate gun control policy in this country, and none of those things negate the fact that if mass shooters are people of color those conversations don’t happen.
The majority of mass murderers are white men, which means that yes, entitlement culture and male privilege are obviously a HUGE FACTOR, but you know what? Racism (in that these discussions never happen when the person committing a violent act is a person of color), gun control, and lack of mental health care are equally huge factors.
I think what’s happening here is that people are continuously conflating mental illness with mental health, which is hugely problematic — an individual can have poor mental health (high stress, low self-esteem, extreme self-doubt, hair-trigger anger) and not necessarily have those things as symptoms of mental illness.
It can be all of them, it IS all of them, and as a person with a nonviolent mental illness who has dealt with violent and nonviolent mental illness in family members for my entire life I am gettin’ RILL TIRED of this “but it’s not a mental health thing” bullshit; actually, part of it is a mental health thing, because people can’t get the support they need to deal with shit like hypermasculized culture and how that affects their self-esteem and their anger. Also? Pretending like violent mentally ill people don’t exist isn’t helping anybody, least of all those people and their families, just as acting like all mentally ill people are violent isn’t helping anybody.
Our definition of “sanity” is a myth because no one fits it. But to suggest that mental health isn’t a key factor (as much as male privilege and entitlement) in whether or not someone goes out and murders 20 children is laughable to me. Laughable.
Do you know what I’ve learned in my life of dealing with mentally ill people? Very few people are true monsters, and mental health and mental illness don’t fit into neat diagnoses most of the time. Most mentally ill people, however that may define itself for them, never hurt another person and certainly don’t commit mass murder. Most neurotypical people don’t either. Frankly, most people don’t commit mass murder, regardless of whether or not they’re managing mental illness and regardless of their relative mental health. It’s something much larger than whether or not someone has good mental health.
However, it’s not ableism to point out that mental health care in this country is in shambles and that mental health is a crucial component in whether or not a person is likely to commit a violent act. It is ableism to armchair diagnose all violent people as mentally ill, or to suggest that we need to improve mental health care services “or else.” There’s not one simple solution — if there was, do you think we’d be having this back-and-forth? — and it’s not productive or useful to ignore the nuance and importance of intersectionality in these conversations. Period.