Imagine you are a student in university. You are facing the challenges all students experience. The stress from schoolwork. The stress to make friends. The stress of trying to fit in. But on top of it all, you have been battling anxiety and depression. At some point, you break and think “I just cannot do this anymore.” The suicidal thoughts take over your entire being and all you want to do is talk to someone about your emotions and fears, so you reach out to teachers or administrators. Then you receive this message from your university. “It is important that you refrain from discussing these issues with other students and use the appropriate resources. If you involve other students in suicidal or self-destructive thoughts or actions you will face disciplinary action.”
Individuals with mental illness, psychologists, and activists yet again are forced to reiterate that mental illness does not lead to violence against others. iustitia has commented on why focusing on mental illness in the wake of mass shootings is dangerous and risks stigmatization. But there is a mental health connection in police involved shootings that has constantly evinced media coverage and consequently, solutions. This narrative serves to conceal a brewing crisis that must be unmasked and that lies at the intersection of police-involved shootings and mental illness.
Despite great efforts by the Veterans’ Administration and veteran-led non-profits to provide mental health care for veterans, the stigma remains in insidious ways. The implicit encouragement of veterans to remain mum about mental illnesses is particularly troubling when one considers that the rate of mental illnesses among veterans is more than double that of average Americans. So, why is the Department of Defense tacitly promoting a culture of silence around mental health counseling and disadvantaging those who seek counseling in promotions and security clearances?