Stop saying “it’s a mental health problem.”

Michael Pearce, Sports Editor

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Yet another mass shooting has taken place in America, and yet again mental illness is to blame.

Mental health can be a factor in mass shootings, but it’s being made the scapegoat for these unspeakable acts without any action being taken.

Mental illness encompasses everything from anxiety to depression to schizophrenia. As someone who has dealt with depression for almost two years now, making mental illness the boogieman is incredibly damaging and downright wrong.

When politicians and major world leaders speak out and blame mental illness for the rising mass shooting numbers, it does the opposite of what they’re trying to do. Instead of shedding light on the importance of mental health, it blames it.

It makes people who struggle with something every day, and probably have kept to themselves, live in shame. It discourages people from speaking about what they struggle with, and further stigmatizes the opinion of some that mental health is a taboo that shouldn’t be spoken about.

When I hear everyone blame mental illness for the terrorism occurring on a near daily basis, it makes me want to speak out about what I go through so much less. I know I am not alone in that aspect, and it is incredibly sad to know that people who struggle in silence every day are being lumped in with mass shooters who may not even actually suffer from mental illness.

It seems like everyone automatically assumes the shooter in any mass shooting situation suffered from a mental illness. Is there most likely something wrong with them? Absolutely. However, immediately pegging them with a mental illness does nothing but harm people who do not commit acts of terrorism that might suffer from bipolar disorder or have anxiety. Maybe, just maybe, these people that are shooting up public spaces are just horrible people with horrible motives.

I know plenty of people with anxiety, depression, OCD, bipolar disorder, etc. These people have never committed an act like this in their lives. These people are nice, sane humans who just struggle with something that is more complex than they’re made out to be. It’s something they don’t want to talk about, something that society has made them feel ashamed of and embarrassed to admit to anyone.

This feeling of shame and embarrassment will only continue if prominent figures like Congress leaders and the president of the United States continue to use mental illness as the boogieman for these horrendous terrorist acts. They need to call them as they are — terrorists who are awful, awful human beings. Lumping them in with people who try their best to just live a normal life is offensive and flat out wrong.

I want this world to be more open about mental health. I want people to be able to casually say, “I have anxiety” or “I have depression.” This future where people can freely speak about their biggest struggles with no hope of being judged or dismissed is impossible when everyone seems to blame mental health problems whenever the newest act of domestic terrorism occurs.

Stop stigmatizing mental illness and stop letting horrible people be lumped in with the millions of people who struggle silently every day without proof.