There are many myths about mental illness and as a result, people who suffer from mental disorders are subjected to prejudices, discrimination, violence, segregation among many other vices.
Societies all over the world have for generations created myths that associate people who suffer from mental disorders with violence and emotional instability, branding them as a danger to the society.
However, news about a Facebook live streaming of a kidnapping and torture of a mentally ill 18-year-old man seems to debunk the most widely held myth on mental illness and raises the questions as to who is actually more of a danger to society.
The #1 myth: People with mental illness are often violent. Fact 1 - The majority of people with a mental health condition are no more violent than anyone else. Fact 2 - People with mental illness are more likely to be the victim of a crime like in this case. Fact 3 - Mass media contributes to the myth that people with mental illness are violent.
The video that went viral shows the victim cowering in a corner of a room, tied up with his mouth bound in plastic. His eyes exude fear as his attackers get ready for their next act. It clearly proves Fact 1 and 2 above.
In the video, a young woman films as two young men slash the sleeves of his shirt with knives and take turns punching him, slapping him and stomping on his head. At one point, one man can be seen cutting the victim’s hair and scalp with a knife, and the victim is later shown bleeding from his injuries.
Let this unfortunate incident remind us that people with mental illness are no more violent than anyone else. In fact, they are more likely to be victims of physical and more so sexual violence than the rest of us.
Please join our growing community of Kenyans who are highly sensitized on mental health matters by joining us on Facebook and Twitter and let’s keep the conversation going. Together, we will end stigma and human rights violations is our society.
The Author is mental health and child rights advocate and the Founder/CEO of Psychiatric Disability Organization.