Why do many people have a double standard when it comes to mental health
disabilities? First they are supportive, then they are not. Ask many people
in America today if they think that Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder or
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are disabling, serious disorders and they
will look you in the face and tell you will whole hearted honesty that
they are. These same people will go on to say that they are terrible disabilities
and that they really feel sorry for people who have them. As if the pity
wasn't bad enough! Then these people will go home and laugh at the television
shows that belittle mental health disabilities, go and see "Me, Myself
and Irene" at the movie theater, and joke about people who have mental
health disorders with their friends.
The web pages of every news channel in Seattle carried the story of
the young woman who killed her mother and dismembered her body. They also
made a point of adding that this killer had bipolar disorder. I wrote to
the KIRO webmaster, explaining to him that by stating that the killer had
bipolar disorder, he was presenting an image of people who have bipolar
disorder as being killers. I suggested that if the killer had some other,
non-mental health related disability, it probably wouldn't be mentioned.
I asked him to remove the statement that the killer had bipolar disorder.
The webmaster responded very nicely, and told me that I would soon receive
an invitation to a forum where I could express my opinions to KIRO staff.
I have yet to receive this invitation. The statement in the web page was
not removed. I wrote to the webmaster two days later to ask again that
it be removed, but received no response, nor was the statement removed.
Yet recently, when a Seattle police officer was shot during a bank robbery,
the web pages of every single news channel in Seattle miraculously changed
to reflect the story within minutes. It seems that the news channels want
to be seen as supportive of mental health disabilities – unless it effects
their story. The news media's first desires are to present stories that
are controversial or otherwise attract attention to the commercials that
bring a profit to the people who support them financially.
This two-faced support/nonsupport of people with mental health disabilities
and disability culture is deplorable when you take into account that television
and web page news media are the place the vast majority of people in the
country get their "news" and impressions of others from.
The things it all seems to come down to is 1) money, and 2) self – esteem.
Jim Carrey's "Me, Myself and Irene" is clearly a case of mental health
disability and culture bashing for profit. His banner for the movie bears
a picture of his head, split down the middle, with the statement, "From
Gentle to Mental." Money at the expense of others is Mr. Carrey's method
of operation since he has no real creative humorous abilities. I am quite
sure that Mr. Carrey will appear on television at some time in the future
proclaiming, with appropriately surprised face, "Oh no! I didn't mean for
it to be negative toward people with mental health disabilities! It was
all just a matter of having fun! I know that mental health disabilities
are serious disabilities…"
The news media, on the other hand, won't pass down the opportunity to
be controversial or earn a buck or a rating for anything, despite the abuses
they may have to dish out in order to receive them. One of the newscasters
on television for the Seattle area had a brain tumor removed, and her news
station made a concerned effort to show support for her over the time she
was in the hospital. Even though this newscaster's brain tumor made her
a mental health patient, the news station continues to bash on people with
mental health disabilities. I wonder how the newscaster feels?
People who show concern for others with mental health disorders and
then turn around and promote stigmatizing jokes, writings and behavior,
have a self-esteem problem in my eyes. From Jim Carrey to the evening news
to the guy on the corner telling a "nutcase" joke, the impression they
give is all the same. People who have trouble with who they are like to
make efforts to keep people they view as "less than" themselves, down,
in order to keep their opinion of themselves up. Such people need to be
viewed as being uneducated, and responding to them without support for
their statement is one of the best things you can do.