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As a society, we must stop the stigmatization of the link between mental illness and gun violence

Being a social work student and mental health advocate, I hold a lot of concern for the stigmatization of mental illness and its relation to gun violence. The implication that mental health issues cause all violent behavior is simply untrue and results in a lack of advocacy for those with mental health issues.

Say what you want, but people have the utmost of faith in social media. Social media is constantly linking gun violence and mental health issues as if they come hand in hand. However, it is not proven that mental health issues and gun violence are even related at all. More mass shootings in the United States have been committed by those with a history of domestic violence than those with mental health issues. These accusations are harmful, especially for those with their own mental health issues. As someone who has had their own battles, I can say that everyone is impressionable. We are a community that needs support and we cannot receive that if people are afraid of us.

This stigmatization must end. We must take action. We have to start fact checking the media and share the truth. This stigmatization is preventing the United States from truly doing something about the real issues embedded within mental health and gun violence. There needs to be more support for those struggling. The use of words like “loony bin” or “mental asylum” categorize these people into thinking that they are deserving of unfair treatment.

Meanwhile, the issue of gun violence is ongoing in America. There have been over 130 mass shootings so far in America in 2021, and it is only April. To make progress, we need to have these discussions. Our elected officials need to recognize the structural inequality occurring in the United States. It is unfair to those with mental health issues. They should not be taking the brunt of our own government’s lack of awareness on the gun issue in the U.S. and we need to speak up for these people.

Molly Rooney, of Centerville, is studying social work at Bridgewater State University.


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