Speed Reads

changing the narrative

American Psychological Association blasts 'unfounded and stigmatizing' association of mental illness with mass shootings

Another day, another mass shooting attributed to mental illness.

Both the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association have seen this story play out dozens of times, and they're sick of it. They both issued statements condemning the violence in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend — and also condemned the unfounded association of mental illness with these and other mass shootings.

The American Psychological Association's President Rosie Phillips Davis issued her statement on Sunday, saying "the spread of thoughts, emotions and behaviors from person to person" seems to have played a role in the El Paso shooting, and that "racism has been shown to have negative cognitive and behavioral effects." But "routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing," Davis continued, as "only a very small percentage of violent acts are committed by people who are diagnosed with, or in treatment for, mental illness." Instead, she attributed most shootings to weapons availability, as well as "racism, intolerance, and bigotry."

The American Psychiatric Association's statement meanwhile called for firearm research and reform, as well as increased mental health care funding. But it was sure to note that "overwhelming majority of people with mental illness are not violent," and said "rhetoric that argues otherwise will further stigmatize and interfere with people accessing needed treatment."

The statements come after President Trump on Monday attributed both shootings to "mental illness and hatred."