No doubt a lot of you will have seen the front page of the Sun today, announcing that people with mental health problems are big stabby monsters who will murder you. If you haven’t, this is literally their front page.
I have the “privilege” of peeping behind the Scum’s paywall, so I checked out the article. It will surprise literally nobody that the data are totally wack, and to make up for the lack of content, the Scum added a lot of pictures of pretty girls who were killed by the scary mentals. Oh, and in a particular double V-sign, they then add a small box pointing out that people with mental health problems are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators.
If you’re interested in the actual facts surrounding dangerousness and mental health problems, you can download a fact sheet here. In short, even the Sun can’t manage to substantiate their front page claim.
But here’s the thing: it’s pretty easy to attack the figures, because they are a nonsense. But in doing that, we lose sight of what is really going on here. We stop asking the questions that need to be asked. Why on earth would the Scum decide to whip up a panic about people with mental health problems?
We live in a society where there is a vast stigma surrounding mental health. Small gains are occasionally made: nice national treasure celebrities can now talk about their depression and so forth, and a fuss might be kicked up about naughty supermarkets selling nasty costumes. It really isn’t enough, though, and as we dig our way towards being treated with basic human dignity, we hit wall after wall after wall.
Our mental health marks us as other, and we become acceptable targets in a society built around kicking the marginalised at every opportunity. It is no surprise that it is the oppressed who are scapegoated for everything that happens, and not the privileged. It is no surprise that the Scum decided to pick the weak rather than splash THOUSANDS KILLED BY MEN. It is no surprise that this will go far less challenged than the fact that they print pictures of norks on the third page.
If the climate of fear remains, we will remain alienated. This stigma can kill. It keeps us lonely, stops us from healing, and it blames us for our own isolation.
And this allows those with the power to continue doing what they’re doing, to maintain their chokehold relatively unchallenged. They are able to perpetrate these assaults, and we continue struggling uphill to fight against tropes that should have died a long time ago. It keeps us down, it keeps them up.
Does it terrify those with the power that the oppressed are gaining a voice? I think it does, and this is why they keep turning up the volume on their attacks. They are scared of us, and want everyone else to be, too. It’s working, perhaps, and that scares me.
The Scum have a rich history of lying about those without power. We know this, but we choose to attack the easy bit rather than the harder bit: that society is built this way, and needs so much to change before most of us can exist comfortably within it.
Use the Sun as kindling, but there’s a hell of a lot we have to burn.
One thought on “The Sun’s mental health splash: it’s not about the numbers”
The brilliant part of the strategy is that it’s a pincer movement.
On the one hand, increase the stigma and fear of the mentally ill in the minds of the general public and you create the political climate where more of their rights can be taken away and cops who kill them can be presented as protectors of the public.
On the other hand every time the DSM and ICD are revised there is an increased proportion of the population definable as mentally ill.
Ever greater oppression for ever greater numbers of people. Much of it done ‘for their own good’.
But better yet is that it’s targeted – more or less.
People with certain political leanings are more likely to cop mental illness diagnoses than others.
Who do you think?
Or am I just being paranoid?