This blog is a summary of a statement from the Mental Health Foundation of NZ (20 March, 2019) following the terrorist attack. We thought it was so good we would put a shorter version on our website.
Following the 15th March’s appalling terrorist attack, many people have suggested that the terrorist must have been mentally ill. It is perhaps comforting to think this but this answer is probably fiction. It wrongly connects mental distress with ‘violence’ or ‘threatening’ and ‘a risk to the community’ which is deeply troubling. The terrorist is an extremist but it is an unfair leap to assume we can blame mental illness for his actions. One, it lets ourselves and the country off the hook from reckoning with racism, white supremacy and the anti-immigrant sentiments that directly led to this attack. This is not part of mental illness. Two, people who live with mental health issues in NZ are already some of the most vulnerable people, recipients of prejudice and discrimination and incorrectly blamed for disproportionate amounts of violence.read more »