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Strike a Chord: Mental Illness Advocates Reject Implications of Proposed Funding

by Jacob Anderson
A A
Capitol Hill

Sarah Chilcott, flickr

WFUV's Strike a Chord Campaign focuses on mental health issues.

Calling for a national conversation on mental illness earlier this month, President Obama cautiously alluded to the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut.

“I want to be absolutely clear,” Obama said, “the overwhelming majority of people who suffer from mental illnesses are not violent, they will never pose a threat to themselves or others.”  

But mental health advocates think Congress missed that memo, and are frustrated with the message coming out of Washington. In April the Senate almost unanimously passed The Mental Health Awareness and Improvement act, an amendment to a bill being considered in light of the Newtown shooting that would increase funding for a program called Mental Health First Aid, among others.

Various mental health groups have released statements rejecting such a strong association between violence and mental illness, saying someone with a mental illness is more likely to be the victim of violence than a perpetrator of it, and that the stereotype of the dangerous mentally ill person is unfair.

“It actually increases the internal stigma that a person with mental illness feels,” said Kenn Dudek, President of the Fountain House in New York City, a support community for people with mental illness. “And that causes people to not seek out treatment or to want to not take their medication.”

You shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, added Dudek, saying he’ll accept the proposed funding from Congress, just not the implication that comes with it.

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