08/06/2015 12:54 EDT | Updated 08/06/2016 05:59 EDT

Stop Blaming Mental Illness for America's Shootings

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Close up of model brain on mental health headlines

The time has come for me to repeat a confession I made last year: I love ABC's The View. Some of my friends might even say I'm obsessed with The View.

The show's most popular segment is Hot Topics where the hosts share their view on decisive issues dividing the country. This segment often makes headlines. Remember the Hasslebeck-O'Donnell debate? Hot Topics is meant to be controversial and when you have five people sitting around the table sharing their opinion its no surprise they may say something you or I disagree with.

As much as I love The View, I'm not exactly pleased with the show's track record when it comes to discussing mental illness. I previously blogged about a comment Barbara Walters made when it came to discussing Justin Bieber's mental health. Last year rumours had circulated that Justin Bieber was on anti-depressants and Walters rhetorically asked what he had to be depressed about since it appeared Bieber had everything he wanted in life. I called on Walters to use the show's platform a bit more wisely and instead of furthering stigma she and the other hosts could educate viewers and eliminate stigma. It appears as if nobody from the show got the memo.

On the August 4, 2015 episode the hosts were talking about gun control after Amy Schumer's press conference on the subject. On July 23, 2015 John Houser shot nine people and killed two others before killing himself during a screening of Schumer's movie Trainwreck in Louisiana. Schumer has teamed up with her cousin U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer calling for greater gun control. The Schumer's are proposing background checks for people who want to own guns in the United States. The background checks would likely involve looking at a person's mental health history. Houser was reportedly treated for mental illness.

The hosts were debating an American's right to have a firearm yet discussing the extent they should be available. In response to this issue The View host Rosie Perez said:

"The number one issue most of the times is in mass shootings and in schools is that it's done by somebody who's mentally ill."

Guest co-host Kelly Osbourne followed up by saying:

"If they change their approach so that nobody's trying to take your gun away from you. We're just trying to make it so that mentally people don't have guns."

Gun control is a decisive issue in the U.S. and it always flares up after mass shootings. I am an advocate of gun control however I object to Osbourne and Perez's comments. It is stigmatizing for these celebrities to suggest people with mental illness are responsible for all mass shootings and massacres and the only way to prevent future tragedies is by taking guns out of the hands of people with mental illness.

I will acknowledge that people with mental illness have committed some terrible crimes from time to time but statistically speaking people with mental illness are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than they are to commit one.

People with mental illness are stigmatized on a daily basis and comments like the ones above on The View to millions of viewers only furthers the stigma and is a disservice to the mental health community. People like Perez and Osbourne could use their platform to educate people but they choose not to. Therefore, it's up to people like me to undo their damage in the hopes of opening up people's minds rather than keeping them closed.


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