Stereotyping People with Mental Illness

I wrote this for an assignment for my speech class, and am now taking a class on abnormal psychology.. I am reminded of what I wrote..

Stereotyping People with Mental Illness

When you hear of a tragedy that happened in recent years, such as gun violence, how often do you hear the reporter or news source questioning whether mental illness played a role in the violent crime?  I mean, who else would do something like that?

How often do “you” find ”yourself”  thinking along the same line as this? Well, the intention of this speech is to persuade you that this is stereotyping and scapegoating people with mental illness.  I will also persuade you that this is discrimination.

You will be able to see how the media’s portrayal of mental illness as cause for violence is inaccurate, according to an article published by The Dana Foundation written by Kayt Sukel, as she states, “despite input from the scientific community that say otherwise.” She explains about how the media is sending a false pretense that scapegoats people with mental illness. This contributes to stigma they face

Moving forward I would like to stress the following.

  • People with mental illness are not more violent than anyone else, therefore media must begin to recognize their role in perpetuating this narrative.
  • Stereotyping and scapegoating people with mental illness is stigmatizing.
  • Mental Illness is a disability. People who have disabilities have rights.

.         My first main point is that mental health must be accurately reported in the media. The link between mental illness and crime is significant but small according to Seena Fazel, a psychiatrist in the UK. But consensus among most such as is that they are no more likely to be perpetrators of violent crimes than anyone else. Therefore, accuracy is most important in getting the public to understand the facts about mental illness and crime. In fact, Mental also says they are more likely to be victims of crimes than perpetrators.

Sukel says in 2013 the Associated Press adopted guidelines on the way they reported mental illness, but they have not changed the way they report. This is according to Bob Carolla, a spokesperson for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

As the media is slow to change the way they report mental illness, we must educate ourselves on the facts of violent crime and mental illness. We must also realize that this creates stigma as well. This leads me to my second point.

Sukel says a study from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reports that a random sampling of US press shows nearly 40 percent of stories regarding mental illness connected it to interpersonal violence. This contributes to the stigma that people with mental illness face.

Fazel says that the stigma created by unfair stereotypes may make landlords fear renting to people with mental illness, or employers fear hiring them as well. According to Fazel this can lead to make opportunities for seeking recovery less available.

Can you just imagine being marginalized because of a disability which makes you MORE vulnerable to crime, yet are being seen as potentially violent at the same time? This is unacceptable. Pure and simple. In my opinion society fights for the rights of some while scapegoating others This makes me angry and it makes me sad. I feel the need to help to clarify the facts. Another fact I want to point out is in my third point.

Mental illness is a disability and people with disabilities have rights. They have equal rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990

Although this law is seen by many as a law for people with physical disabilities, it includes people who have mental disabilities as well. Did you know it is against the law for employers, housing, educators, and more to ask a person to disclose a disability?

In conclusion, I would hope that you can see that people with mental illness are not more likely to be violent than anyone else. They contribute to life just like anyone else. They have ups and downs like anyone else. They face challenges in life that many people don’t understand. But all people face challenges, don’t they?

Stereotyping people with disabilities is wrong but may be unintentional therefore be aware, be open minded! And lastly, discrimination of a disability is against the law. My hope is to see more people become aware that mental illness is a disability and ALL people deserve to be treated as equals, just as any marginalized person would want. Just as any human being would want.










Works Cited “Mental Health Myths and Facts.” Mental Health Myths and Facts. Department of Health and Human Services, 14 Mar. 2013. Web. 22 June 2017. <;.

Sukel, Kayt . “News.” Mental illness, Violence, and Stigma–The Need for Accuracy in the Media. The Dana Foundation, 07 Sept. 2016. Web. 21 June 2017. <,_Violence,_and_Stigma–The_Need_for_Accuracy_in_the_Media/&gt;.












Working With Clients

If I were working with a client in the field of consumer advocacy for people with mental illness, I think the anxiety I have will depend on where in the context of consumer advocacy I will be working. If it is for a consumer/client in a mental health clinic that doesn’t necessarily put much resource into advocacy for consumers, or address advocacy for consumers, anxiety about just exactly how much I could do to help the client in the setting that I am working with. I would worry for the client. Conflict of interest may come into play, affecting the client. If I am working within a clinic or setting that incorporates advocacy for consumers, then I feel that the anxiety would be less. That would be the better scenario. Also if I were working with an independent organization that may or may not be seen as something a provider would care to deal with, my level and type of anxiety would differ.

This anxiety would not necessarily have a trigger other than the fear of the unknown, and the intern phase of the job. With experience and having knowledge about outcomes other similar situations within the mental health care system could ease anxiety. The are not all the same. This is where being prepared for your job will help to deal with anxiety, as well as working with other advocates and using peer input to get as much insight as possible. What if one specific case did not work out in favor of the client? I would hope that my job would entail helping to find other avenues of help to pursue.

Also another way to manage anxiety is to involve oneself in groups where helpers could listen and talk about issues, as well as a daily care routine to reduce stress such as exercise and nutrition. These together could help to reduce stress when working for or with a consumer/client.

Written in April ‎27, ‎2015, but never published publicly.