advocacy mental health

How I Think Donald Trump Will Impact The Mental Health of Americans

To start off, I would first like to say that yes, I may be Canadian, but I have a big stake in American politics. My sister and her family live in Boston. Not only do I spend a lot of time in America, but I have a lot of friends and family who live there and who are impacted by the policies enacted in the country. These are people who I love dearly. Their well-being is very important to me. I want them to be happy, to be healthy and to be treated fairly and with respect. As well, the United States is a model for the world and other countries base their culture and look to it as a leader so it is concerning if there is a regression in human rights. Also that I feel compassion for all people so even if I don’t live there, I feel for the American people strongly.

Additionally, it is concerning because Donald Trump’s mentality is spreading across the globe, therefore affecting everyone, not just Americans. There is this global trend towards populism and anti-globalism like Brexit which was based largely on closing borders to immigrants and “Britain first!”, echoing the kind of “America first!” Sentiment by DT. This mentality and anti-globalist attitude was also quite prevalent in the “NO” side during the recent referendum in Italy.

I’m not going to go into too much detail about what I think about Donald Trump as a person. It doesn’t matter right now, because he is going to be the president, unless something crazy happens. You never know. What I do know is that, as a society, we need to do our best to ensure that all Americans are treated well, regardless of race, sex, gender identity, ability and more, which seems unlikely at this point. Therefore, we must fight for the rights of all people, especially people in marginalized communities.

As a Canadian without much power, there is only so much I can do. Because my main goal in life is to raise awareness of mental illness and mental health, I personally think about people in these communities a lot, in any country. I think about how people with mental health are treated and will be treated, and what resources will be available to them. Canada has pretty good healthcare – it’s not perfect, but it’s a start. We do have some great mental health resources but they are not enough. From what I know about the USA, it’s pretty much the same when it comes to support for mental health.

So, naturally, I think a lot about what Donald Trump might do for people with mental health issues. His official position on the matter is vague – on his website, in the section on Healthcare Reform, he briefly mentions mental health, stating: “Finally, we need to reform our mental health programs and institutions in this country. Families, without the ability to get the information needed to help those who are ailing, are too often not given the tools to help their loved ones. There are promising reforms being developed in Congress that should receive bi-partisan support.”

So, basically pretty vague, right? In my completely, non-expert opinion, I really can’t imagine that anything too great will be produced to help people like me, living with illnesses like bipolar disorder, depression, schizophrenia, OCD, eating disorders and more. From what I have seen, Donald Trump has mocked a person with disabilities. He is constantly putting people down with personal insults about their identity, people who he sees as inferior or weaker to him. He belittles women and talks about them as if they are objects. I can’t see that he has any respect for people with mental illness as well. It just doesn’t fit with who he has portrayed himself to be. He doesn’t ever seem to take the time to understand how people who are different from him live. He doesn’t seem to have much empathy or desire to push past something at face value to understand someone at a deeper level. It doesn’t seem plausible that he would take someone, say, with schizophrenia who acts a little bit “oddly” or “unconventionally”, who might say something he thinks is “crazy” and then trying to understand why they might have said that before judging them or condemning them. This is all speculation but as someone living with bipolar disorder, I have come to understand how people see people like me and I just have a gut feeling about him.

I worry when I see some of his biggest and most prominent supporters with terrible and damaging opinions about mental illness. Take Ann Coulter. A little while ago, she published an article on her website called “The Problem Isn’t With Guns or White Men.” You can read the article so I won’t write too much, but essentially she talks about the need for involuntary institutionalization of people with severe mental illness. Her argument is that most people who commit mass shootings are mentally ill, so we need to ensure that society is protected from these people. While some people with mental illness are violent, the percentage is so low. Only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In a study of crimes committed by people with serious mental disorders, only 7.5 percent were directly related to symptoms of mental illness. Interestingly and perhaps even more relevant, is that people with severe mental illness are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. Ann would criticize me for using these statistics but I find they are important to highlight, even if she personally thinks they are inaccurate. The concept of forced institutionalization is pretty ridiculous to me. Someone with schizophrenia, who Ann Coulter argues needs to be taken out of society, can live a positive and productive life with the right treatment. To lock up every single person with the illness “in case” they might murder someone is so unrealistic. It would not only be a huge waste of resources but it would ruin lives needlessly. Taking such extreme views on solutions just perpetuates and exacerbates the stigma and would lead to people hiding their mental illness or surpressing it which are both dangerous to themselves and others. People deserve the chance to live a full life if they are able to it. I am not against institutionalization for everyone, I am sure some people do need it. But it is not right for everyone.

A lot of this article is speculation because Donald Trump hasn’t said anything concrete about mental illness so basically, mental health advocates are left guessing as to what will happen after the inauguration. I wrote this article because I am scared. Scared for people like me who will not have access to the resources they need. Scared that their place in society will be weakened, that they will not receive the respect and empathy that they need to live life fully, without discrimination and stigma. Scared that people will judge them for their illness and treat them differently, instead of celebrating their bravery for fighting difficult struggles.

So what can we do while we wait to find out what will happen? We can plan to fight. Fight for the rights of people with mental illness. Fight to have our voices heard. Fight to ensure we have a place in society, no matter who is president.

Who’s with me?

 

13 comments on “How I Think Donald Trump Will Impact The Mental Health of Americans

  1. So true! I don’t live in the US either, but I worry that someone with Donald Trump’s mentality can be elected.

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  2. rainicorn

    I’m a US citizen, and my fear and loathing is beyond description atm. Trump will do nothing for mental health. He isn’t capable, and I don’t think mental health care is anywhere on the map for his administration. I’m so dismayed. Democracy in the best sense requires constant tending. Sorry for going on like this! We need to stand together because Trump’s presidency will have international effects.

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  3. Excellent post- thank you for sharing. I am very scared already with Trump’s presidency…

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  4. Pingback: Share: “How I Think Donald Trump Will Impact The Mental Health of Americans – The Catalysts for Change

  5. Thank you for your compassion and understanding. I live in the states, actually, about 30min from Washington D.C. and I’m terrified. I try to keep a brave face and not engage in politics where I live, as it’s a very sore subject. The sad thing is that if you have an opinion against Trump, you are called a sore loser, a crybaby or a freeloader, depending on your status or class. I never thought much about status and class, but apparently it’s a big thing now.

    I have suffered with mental illness since childhood, major depressive disorder, ptsd, general anxiety disorder, bipolar and into adulthood, addiction. I’m on medication that has saved my life, along with therapy and I’m terrified that pretty soon I’ll not be able to get the help I need. I depend on state medical assistance for myself and my small child, to get the appropriate care we need. Now with our government dismantling healthcare, it is frightening.

    It has taken so much effort and hard work to get to the place I am today, where I feel safe and as though I’m actually progressing. I’m trying not to worry about what will happen in the next several weeks and months, to the point of a breakdown, because I don’t want to go back to where I was. I know I’m going to have to begin to develop a plan just in case my fears become reality, but I don’t even know where to begin.

    Thank you for advocacy, it is so very necessary for the stigma to be broken and people become educated on mental illness and what exactly that means.

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  6. I am a U.S. citizen and I encourage everyone to give President Trump a chance. Our country needs his strong leadership abilities to counter nations that seek to do harm to innocent people.

    Yes, the media and Hollywood paint Mr. Trump in the worst possible light. According to them, Mr. Trump barely won the election, but I suggest that you consider the 304 electoral votes that he received from his landslide victory.

    Regular American people like myself have spoken. Even if you dislike him as a person, I firmly believe that Mr. Trump (who cannot be bought off by lobbyists or any other institution) will bring back jobs to our country. I am speaking for the thousands (millions?) of Americans who have families to feed. People who actually go to work for a living and are willing to work.

    I understand that this will not be a popular reply, so my apologies for offending, but it’s time that the average American citizen has a voice.

    Not just someone regurgitating what one hears on the news and on the telly.

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  7. Love the perspective of this piece, as it’s something a lot of people aren’t talking about right now or even in general; the mentality of it all.

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  8. Pingback: Mental Health is at issue! | Donaldtrumpdisorder.com

  9. Pingback: Ten Women I Admire For Raising Awareness About Mental Health – Slay Girl Society

  10. Would it be OK if I cross-posted this ar5ticle to WriterBeat.com? I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. There is no fee, I’m simply trying to add more content diversity for our community and I liked what you wrote. If “OK” please let me know via email.
    Autumn
    AutumnCote@WriterBeat.com

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