Media Slow to Remove PTSD Stigma Even as Attitudes Shift

President Bill Clinton conducted the very first White House Summit regarding Mental Health back in 1999. The goal of the first conference was to educate America as well as the media on the ethical and moral initiative to help dispel stigmas that are often thought of with mental health issues. Clinton said then that mental illness should not be something we are ashamed of but rather the bias and stigma should shame all of us, according to a NY Times blog. Recently, the Defense Department has made large progress with eliminating the stigma surrounding post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other mental health disorders that affect the military. This shift has caused a sea of change to offer help to our military service members who need support and deserve it. Unfortunately, for all the progress that has been made the media still seems to portray a stigma surrounding the illness that links military servicemen and women to mental illness and violence. News article across our country, refer to some veterans as “ticking time bombs” and speak of them being trained in “guerrilla warfare”. Such media outlets are way too careless when it comes to providing the proper context for such remote incidents of violence that sometimes happen to be committed by military veterans. Reporting has long been biased toward sensationalism that will sell the most newspapers even if it means spreading the stigma of dangerous combat veterans such as the case with Itzcoatl Ocampo. The most unfortunate reports are the ones that imply that there is a link between mental health, military service and increased tendency for life threatening violence, which is in fact, misleading.

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