Dehumanizing mental health in the news

Everyone’s got mental health, I don’t think that’s news. But I guess some people struggle with it a lot more than others, myself included. This is not going to be a blogpost where I talk about my own mental health, but I’d rather talk about how mental health is percepted in the news. The last two years there has been a rather toxic relation between people who have done something and how the media love to portray them as mentally ill.
In the past few years many tragedies have fallen upon, particularly men inflicted tragedies. All those attacks, shooting and terrorism is horrible and leaves a big black stain on your soul. It’s so sad and has left me with tears on several occasions. But I want to talk about is the change in mentality when we look at the motive of the attackers. We tend to call every attacker mentally ill of suffering from a mental disorder in the media, because that’s easy.
This mentality and perspective gives us two significant problems in our contemporary society. Problems which have been addressed and are known to the public, but through some kind of propaganda have been taken seriously by different old and new media. There’s the problem of the stigma of mental health and the other is the problem of making a distinction between humans because of their mental health problems. I thought it was well explained in this article by the Independent from 2016: Mental illness has become a convenient scapegoat for terrorism – but the cause of terror are rarely so simple.
Mental health stigma
Mental health is present in everyone. You can choose to ignore it or talk shit about it, but it’s not going to disappear. Everyone has mental health. But it’s really important to talk about it, because it gives some people some tremendous difficulties. Mental illnesses or disorders haven’t been talked about for so long and now it’s getting out in the open a little bit more, the media does the aforesaid: turning mental illness into something, because they draw the connection between mental illnesses and terrorism.

Distinction between humans
What’s interesting, yet disturbing is the way attackers are mentally profiled. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t agree with their views and actions, I’m opposed to such violence and hatred. However, the media always tries to find a way to make them different to ‘normal’ people. How often do we see an attacker being described as bipolar or borderline? Is this because the attacker is definitely mentally ill? Or is it just convenient to give it some label which makes us feel better about ourselves. Because the people who are ‘normal’ are different now to them who are mentally ill. We don’t know everything about the lives of such persons and by branding them a certain mental illness, we portray not only them as horrible persons because of it, but we also give everyone who struggles with a certain type of mental illness, a bad name.
There’s huge stigma on mental illnesses already and this does only add to it. People with mental illnesses are not bad. There are definitely bad people around the world, but it’s not solely because of their mental illness or mental health issues, that they like terrorists.  I just feel we tend to forget them sometimes.
What do you think of this? Do you think the media has a big role to play in the acknowledgement of mental illnesses in our contemporary society?


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