I saw this article yesterday on my Facebook feed and was bothered by the title and continued to be bother by the article and then enraged by the reader comments.
I’m very tired of seeing articles such as this one! Especially when the odd time of year (you know for those awareness weeks) you get articles talking about mental health stigma and what we can do about it and ESPECIALLY when I was apart of one!
I decided to write an email to the editor.
My name is Kristen and I have a mental health issue. I’m not entirely sure if this email would be better directed to but I have an issue with an article that came out yesterday called “Mentally ill man’s Toronto disappearance prompts safety concerns, criticism of mental health system” by Niamh Scallan and Curtis Rush.
I was apart of The Stars’ December series on youth suicide and felt extremely support by The Star. I trusted that I was in a safe place to share a part of my life that is frequently shamed by others and also by myself.
I have seen a few articles that have evoked a similar reaction to this one I am writing to you about but what really prompted me to finally say something about it is the comments I saw fellow readers posting in response, especially on Facebook.
You are the media. You influence discourse.
All this article does is perpetuate the horrible violence stereotype that plagues those experiencing mental health issues. While this man has done something that makes him a risk there is no mention of how this does not include all “mentally ill” people. The title strips this man of his rightful name! Which further helps push the stereotype of people experiencing mental illness as being violent and dehumanizes this man as being only his illness. You would never have a headline read “Sane man/woman escapes”. You would use their name.
People experiencing mental illness are more likely to be VICTIMS not the perpetrators of violence but we usually only report on the violence that is perpetrated and then make great note of the fact that they have a mental illness.
I have experienced violence due to my known vulnerabilities I experienced while at the height of my illness as a youth and I have been labelled as violent ONLY because I have a mental health issue, NOT because I have actually been violent.
I feel that The Star cannot go from wanting to break down the stigma experienced by people with mental health issues one day by writing articles such as the youth suicide series and then for the rest of the year continue to contribute to the stigma, even if it is unknowingly, with articles such as this.
I would like to thank you for the time you took to read this email and I hope you have a great day.