June 18, 2019 | 68° F

EDITORIAL: Discrimination can not be diagnosed

Associating prejudiced rhetoric with mental illnesses is problematic


Something out of the ordinary occurred between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Donald J. Trump. Recently, the Russian president has called upon his staffers and diplomats to put together a psychological dossier on Trump. Normally, it would be nothing uncommon for a nation’s leader to be briefed on another leader they before they meet, especially the U.S. president. But conducting a psychological report is not usually part of the protocol. So why the dossier? The Russian government claims that it is due to Trump’s performance over the past few months, but does this really call for a full psychological analysis?

Putin’s decision resembles a highly offensive petition that has been circulating the internet. This petition, with more than 36,000 signatures, states that Trump's personality calls for the mental health assessment of the president, and urges Republicans to look into the mental state of Trump. The petition repeatedly advocates for this with the use of the tag “#DiagnoseTrump.”

The alarming aspect of this petition, as well as Putin’s request, has nothing to do with the actions of the president. In fact, the argument surrounding this issue has nothing to do with any of his views, but rather the way society looks to mental illnesses as a scapegoat for behaviors they dislike. Being mentally ill seems to almost have no impact in our society because of the way it is irresponsibly portrayed.

Many times, at least in recent news and situations, those who exhibited blatantly discriminatory qualities raised questions amongst the public about their mental health. Perhaps it is because many people are shocked by the fact that some people can be unashamedly insulting, that they wonder if something is psychologically wrong with them. But this is wrong. This is wrong in the same way that Dylann Roof’s attorney insisting that he had a mental illness, despite Roof stating that he did not, after he murdered nine black parisioners at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. It is as if the media will do anything, even cover someones actions with a supposed mental imbalance, instead of calling them what they are — hateful, horrible people.

So what is so wrong about this?

Mental illness is highly stigmatized all over the world. About 43.8 million adults in America experience mental illness in a given year. But only 41 percent of those with mental illnesses have received mental health services in the past year. Why is this?

The issues surrounding views of mental health are impacted by race, gender, socioeconomic class and other factors. Oftentimes, personal ideologies affects how someone views mental illnesses and most come to a negative conclusion. People look at mental illnesses as a choice and that they are excuses. This is especially the case with the country's perception of depression. Because mental illnesses like depression cannot be “physically seen,” (although brain scans argue this), people don’t take them seriously. They often tell people with these disorders to “get over it,” as if their mental illness is merely a choice when it is clearly not.

But you know what is a choice? Being discriminatory, hateful and hurtful. There is not a mental illness behind hating people of a certain race or background, there is just ignorance. And labeling this ignorance as a mental illness is insulting to those who actually have mental illness and are not treated with half as much sympathy. By labeling these hateful people with a mental illness, it is giving them a way out, a get-out-jail-free card. Rather than society shrugging its shoulders at acts of discrimination and sweeping it underneath the false title of a “mental illness, it needs to address these issues. This way, rather than making an effort to show these people that their feelings are hateful, they are covered.

The Daily Targum's editorials represent the views of the majority of the 149th editorial board. Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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