Recently, whilst talking about mental health, Donald Trump said that various veterans returning from war with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) aren’t strong enough and can’t “handle” fighting. He talks about it as if suffering from a mental health problem and committing suicide is a sign of weakness.
I would like to point out that suggesting that mental illness occurs because that person is weak and cannot deal with what they are being confronted with is very detrimental to anyone’s mental well-being, whether they have mental health issues or not. Being called weak at any point can make you feel useless and incapable, regardless of whether the task that you’re confronted with occurs every day or during something such as war. However, suggesting that various veterans who have committed suicide weren’t fit for combat in the first place, purely because they ended up suffering from PTSD, is outrageous! I don’t feel as if Trump has a deep understanding of mental health if he views PTSD as a sign of weakness.
Moreover, research has shown that very few soldiers, who have unfortunately committed suicide, actually experienced direct combat during war, therefore it has much less to do with direct combat as it seems to be.
Research has shown that men are four times more likely to die from suicide than women are, because they’re less likely to talk about it. Furthermore, individuals less likely to talk about their problems, whichever gender they may be, are more likely to commit suicide as they would not have received information on how to help themselves. Therefore, by suggesting that it’s more beneficial to have militants who appear stronger and seem ok from the outside is actually making the issue worse. If we label people as strong, they may not want to appear weak and therefore will not speak up if they’re suffering from mental health issues.
When you break your leg, no one calls you weak. When you have an infection, no one calls you weak. When you have the flu, no one calls you weak.
So why is it that mental health isn’t given the same respect? It should be given as much attention as any of our physical needs. We need to create an environment which gives people the space to feel at ease when confronting mental illness. When Trump gives the impression that he views people who commit suicide or suffer from PTSD as weak, he’s creating an environment where mental illness is being shunned. In a world like that we will be unable to tackle mental illness, less help will be given to those who need it as they’ll feel that speaking up will cause others to look at them differently, and not as the strong person they were seen as before.
We are not weak if we’re depressed.
We are not weak if we’re suicidal.
We are not weak if we have PTSD.
(Image courtesy of CNN)