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John Oliver is the host of the TV show “Last Week Tonight”, a political satire program in the same vein as the Daily Show. On October 4th he did a segment on Mental Health Problems, and it was INCREDIBLE. After the Oregon shooting, the killer was immediately, and without clinical support, labeled “mentally ill”. As with every mass shooting, it seemed that us people with mental health problems would be subject to another BS round of politicians and reporters making attention and vote grabbing judgments of what should be done with all of us. John Oliver took the opposite track, and he tore them all a new one. To my knowledge, he willingly addressed what no one with a national audience had ever done. He started by arguing that we don’t like talking about mental health problems, and do it terribly when discussion does occur. Throughout his talk he covered stigma and the perception of people with mental health problems as violent, the lack of mental health care and competence in many places, and concluded by saying “if we are going to constantly use mentally ill people to dodge conversations about gun control, then the very least we owe them is a f****ing plan”
I am ecstatic. I’ve been discussing these issues with peers in the mental health community for years, but I didn’t expect anyone who didn’t have first hand experience to talk honestly about these issues for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean we are being listened to. His perspective seems to be formed by evaluating sources and opinions that are not people with mental health problems. Also he was unaware that “mental illness” can be offensive. But this does mean someone outside the mental health community took a look at what we have to go through and said, “This is terrible, why is this happening?”. Then they thought it was important enough to spend a huge chunk of their show on. There was realization AND action. I have noticed a lot of people outside mental health are gaining realization. Now that one prominent person has broken the ice and taken action to discuss the matter maybe eventually others will follow. I’m hoping this is a sign of a more honest, rational view of us people with mental health problems, and our treatment. What do you guys think?
Check it out here.
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