YouTuber and blogger RawSammi recently posted a blog post and YouTube video discussing the negative effects attributing gun violence and mental illness has on the stigma of mental illness. Her blog post can be found here: https://rawsammi.com/2016/06/14/on-gun-control-mental-illness/
In her blog post and video she rightfully says that the mentally ill are more likely to be victims of crime rather than the perpetrators due to the stigma surrounding mental health conditions and that only 3-5% of crimes in the U.S. are carried out by those with a mental disorder.
Truly, mental illness and those suffering with mental illness cannot be considered a cause of violence however I believe that the negative image surrounding mental illness worldwide and the lack of affordable treatment in the US, or availability or treatment/over stretching of public funded treatment elsewhere in the world can be blamed.
Lets look at the case of Elliot Rodger for example. Elliot Rodger killed six people and injured a further 14 before killing himself in Santa Barbara in California. Elliot was unable to lose his virginity which became an obsession for him. The obsession to hate women and become jealous of other men. He also hated interracial couples and men of ethnic minorities who could find love s he considered himself to be ‘better’ than them.
We can break this obsession down into ‘unhelpful thinking patterns’ outlined by CBT, which can be found here: http://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/unhelpful.htm
If you get the opportunity to watch some of the videos Elliot released before going on his killing spree he says that he often focuses on the happiness that the couples he sees out and about have. This is an example of a ‘mental filter‘, he is only focusing on what he wants to see. He was obviously then comparing himself to those people which is another unhelpful thinking habit and becoming critical of himself as he is unable to find a girlfriend of his own. All unhelpful thought patterns as outlined by CBT.
See, if Elliot had access to a CBT course and maybe some counselling he might have been able to see what was going through his mind and not gone that rampage.
Elliot and his family were quite well off. So financially he would have been able to get access to help but didn’t seek it because he thought that it would make him appear weak. Sammi touches on that in her video, that there are pressures on men to be seen as strong and masculine. This is known as toxic masculinity and is a separate social issue that we can cover another time.
Many in the states are not well off enough to have access to CBT classes and other types of mental health care as many private insurance companies do not cover it. This is why I support nationwide public health care in the states as, although a ‘socialist’ idea, it just makes sense. Here we have the NHS which, while not perfect, has saved many lives over the years. I also believe that basic CBT should be a part of national education so that people can recognise when they are having these unhelpful thinking patterns so they can nip it in the bud before it gets too serious.
We have also seen an influx of ‘hate crimes’ in the United Kingdom of which many have been attributed to mental health issues. Sadly the other MP Jo Cox was shot and stabbed in her constituency of Birstall in Yorkshire. The actual motives for this killing are presently unknown although it is rumoured that the killer shouted ‘Britain First’ which is the name of a far right nationalist movement. Zac Davies also recently attempted to hack a Sikh man to death having been inspired by far right movement National Action. On the other side of the coin a Muslim man tried to behead a stranger in Leytonstone Tube Station having been inspired by ISIS.
Racial hatred is obviously a motive in these cases as was the hatred of the LBGT community was in Orlando. However, hatred is a learnt behaviour and an abnormality. the majority of white English people do not hate Muslims and the majority of Muslims don’t hate white English people. Not all straight people hate gay people either, it is a learned negative reaction.
As a community we can obviously combat hate by showing each other support, which we do but to hate someone enough to kill them is a serious serious issue. Although I do not know these cases well I would imagine that there were other underlying issues which attributed to their want to kill these people, it wasn’t just racial hatred. Again, I would imagine that these issues could have been put into perspective with the use of CBT, be that self help or professional counselling.
In conclusion whilst these crimes are not by those with an actual diagnosis of a mental health condition I believe that a basic non medicinal treatment of mental health could have helped prevent these crimes. We should also be educating everybody about the basics of mental health self care and we should be making treatment accessible to the masses. This means you too Jeremy Hunt, stop cutting the NHS budget please <3
Thanks for reading guys and girls, speak to you all soon