You’ve surely heard about the UCSB shooting by now. Long story short, Elliot Rodger went on a murderous rampage, killing six and injuring many more.
This murderer published numerous YouTube videos and a 141-page “manifesto” that explained his actions. He calls it his “retribution” against women, “All those girls that I’ve desired so much, they would’ve all rejected me and looked down upon me as an inferior man if I ever made a sexual advance towards them while they throw themselves at these obnoxious brutes. I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you.” His disgusting misogynistic rant sparked the hashtag #YesAllWomen to show just how common violence against women really is and how sexism is still alive and well.
Many are quick to jump to the conclusion that Rodger was “crazy” and that his attacks are a result of mental illness. It’s easy to point the blame at mental illness instead of talking about it, but the fact is that this is someone who hated women (and other races according to his own words). Yes, Rodger was in therapy.
Yes, he suffered from mental health problems. His own mother requested that the police check on him after seeing a video he posted. They did, and everything checked out. Mental health is not the problem here. Misogyny and Elliot Rodger are the problem. Complacency with sexism is the problem. We need to stop saying that mental health causes senseless violence like this because it does not, and there are so many other stigmas about mental illness we need to stop believing while we’re at it:
Myth: Mental Illness Causes Violence
FALSE. So, so false. Mental illness does not cause one to be violent, and most people suffering from mental illness are 10 times more likely to be victims of violence. They're also more likely to commit violence against themselves, not others. "Only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness." The majority of crimes are caused by just regular bad people who do not suffer from mental illness.
Myth: Mental Illness Can Only Be Solved With Medication
Medication is one of the many ways to treat mental illness. Some mental illnesses do require medicine to function everyday, but most mental illnesses can be treated with other methods. For example, I'm treating my anxiety with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Popping a pill doesn't necessarily make things better.
Myth: Only A Few People Have Mental Health Problems
One in five Americans suffer from mental health issues. One in 10 young adults suffer from depression at some point in their lives. One in 20 live with severe mental illnesses. Mental illness can affect anyone at any age, and it's way more common than you think. People are just afraid to talk about it.
Myth: Mental Illnesses Are Genetic
Yes and no. There is evidence to support that many mental illnesses are genetically linked, and you could be predisposed to illness if someone in your family suffers. However, just because someone in your family suffers from mental illness does not mean you will. You can also develop mental illnesses from traumatic events and experiences. There are many different types of mental illnesses, and they are not all treated alike.
Myth: Having A Mental Illness Means You're Crazy
No, it means you have an illness. "Crazy" is a gross and dismissive term that belittles mental health. If someone is suffering from a mental illness, they are not crazy. They have a legitimate illness.
Myth: Mental Illness Is A Weakness
Mental illnesses are not weaknesses. They do not make you any less of a person than someone without mental illness. If you had a heart condition, you would not be considered weak. Also, mental illness is not a reflection of someone's character.
Myth: Those With Mental Illness Can Never Get Better
Some people with mental illness may require lifelong treatment. But so might people with physical illnesses. Some mental illnesses can be completely treated while others might need treatment for their whole life. It's between a patient and their doctor how long they need to be going through treatment. There is no set time period per mental illness because everyone is different and requires different forms of treatment.
What do you think about mental health issues? Did you believe any of the myths above? Do you think mental health is the problem here? Tell us in the comments!