The recent shootings in Connecticut have been having the exact opposite effect that they should in regards to mental health, and I felt that I should speak up for the sake of those who can’t.
To the media, and anyone who reads the news: arguably the biggest issue with mental health is the enormous stigma attached to that label, and the fear that people have of getting help. “So-and-so has mental health issues, therefore so-and-so is a potential mass murderer” is not a valid belief, and it should stop being portrayed as such.
I just read an article by The Huffington Post which was written by the mother of a troubled autistic boy. She titled the article “I am Adam Lanza’s mother [Adam being the Connecticut shooter’s name]”, and ended with the phrase “God help us all”; the implication being that her son was a potential mass-murderer waiting to happen.
20% of Canadians have mental health issues  (it has been estimated over 26% in the US ) – guaranteed at least one of your friends and family members have been affected. Of these, the vast majority are non-violent. To imply that people with mental health issues are potential monsters that should be feared is damaging, and akin to racial discrimination. This stigma causes people with fully treatable disorders to refuse help and keep their problems a secret in order to avoid public distrust and hate. Imagine how many suicides could have been avoided if people knew that there was help out there. That they weren’t simply “damaged beyond repair”. Not all could have been, no, but some.
If you take nothing else away from this post, keep this in mind: a person with mental health issues is a person just like you. In fact, it might even be you, your mother, your brother, your uncle, or your best friend.
Stop perpetuating fear and hatred, and you truly will help us all.