by: Eric M. Kussin

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01 June 2018

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How People With Platforms Can Worsen Mental Health Stigma

Most of us have heard about the inexcusable comment Roseanne made recently on Twitter, resulting with the cancellation of her show. This story is troubling for many reasons. It’s a very sensitive topic, so I’m going to try to be overly simplistic.

 

Racism is unacceptable under any circumstances. Roseanne originally tried to rationalize her comment by claiming it was an “Ambien tweet.” The makers of Ambien appropriately responded by stating: racism is not a side effect of the drug. The story could have stopped there. It didn’t. Many with a celeb platform often like to share their opinions.

 

Jimmy Kimmel was one such celeb who commented on the controversial tweet. In trying to explain Roseanne’s reasons behind the tweets, Kimmel used the terms “not well” & “mental health issues.”

 

While Ambien may not come w the side effect of racism, when did a celeb like Kimmel decide they were able to diagnose that mental health issues do come along w racist tendencies? Have we not all met ppl who have “mental health issues”? That’s once again a rhetorical question bc YES, we all have, bc mental health lives on a continuum, & we all know & have experienced some level of issues at some point in our lives.

 

Has anyone else out there met ppl with “mental health issues” who don’t come across as outwardly racist in the least? I have. I speak, text, & write w them daily. I’ve not come across a single person who openly communicated in the racist way that Roseanne did in that tweet.

 

One of the most popular responses to Kimmel’s tweet (from a popular author with a big following: Roxane Gay) actually combated Kimmel’s comments by saying mental ILLNESS is not an excuse.
Once again we have two ppl of influence (Kimmel and Gay) discussing the same topic, interchangeably using the terms mental health complications, & mental illness. That term mental illness just exacerbates our understanding of overall mental HEALTH as a society. Our media, politicians, & celebrities all use the term cavalierly.

 

Note to that group – life experiences, upbringing, & environment influence our mental HEALTH no matter our genetic predispositions. Mental HEALTH plays a factor in our opinions, decisions, & actions. The term Mental ILLNESS does NOT however blankety explain all poor decisions & actions. This term is used as a scapegoat, and in a way that makes our society believe that there is just this “ill/sick” group of ppl out there, who were born w their poor decisions woven into their fabric from birth. It’s wrong, it’s gotta stop…mental health exists on a continuum…we are all on that continuum in various spots. Communicating the concept/existence of only a “mentally ill” group and a “normal” group is complete fabrication and irresponsible.

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