Anthony Jorm writes of The Media Versus the Mentally Ill on the website Project Syndicate. He addresses the way coverage of both violent events and mental illness reinforces the stigma that people with mental illness are predisposed to violence. In his article he states that, in the American media, 39% of all reports on mental illness focused on either violence or danger. He maintains that while 68% of adults know at least one person who has been hospitalized for a mental illness, only 9% have ever been threatened or physically harmed by such a person. And yet, largely because of the stigma set forth by the media, 70% of Americans believe that a person hospitalized for a mental illness may be dangerous.
The mentally ill face this stigma everyday, and it keeps some of us from getting the help we need. Jorm's article is worth a careful read, as it tears into the false picture of the mentally ill portrayed all too often.