Letters to the Editor

Mental illness: Trump comments promote stigma

Re: “Trump: Texas mass shooting is about mental health, not guns,” (TNT, 11/6).

I am disturbed by the president’s response to the Texas church shooting as “a mental health problem at the highest level.”

Not only, as the article notes, does Trump refuse to discuss tougher gun safety laws, but he is wrong that mental illness causes gun violence.

Instead, specific factors such as substance abuse, a person’s history of violence and past imprisonment correlate with violent behavior. We should focus on the shooter’s violence towards his family, not on assumptions about his mental health.

As a human rights worker and a social worker-in-training, I have spoken with many people living with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression.

Many face discrimination by employers who see them as incapable, doctors who treat them as less than human and potential friends who do not see past their diagnoses.

The president’s words are part of what make it harder for people with mental illness to belong. I hope more journalists will challenge, rather than unintentionally amplify, stigmatizing statements.