Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dear Media Matters - Does It?

The following is a copy of an e-mail I just sent to Media Matters. This falls in the pet-peeve/Mother Clucker creating category. This is what gets my feather's ruffled up!

I am very sensitive when the terms mental illness, schizophrenia, psychotic, etc., are bandied about incorrectly, but when an organization like Media Matters reprints it and basically blows it off as a shortcoming, I get really pissed off.

To Whom it May Concern:

My understanding is that you report when the media misinforms the public. Is that correct? I would like to see more coverage on issues related to Mental Illness. While there is little media coverage on issues related to mental illness, unless someone who is untreated has a psychotic episode and hurts people, misinformation does occur. Given by the number of articles that came up when I searched on the words "mental illness", I do not think much fact checking is going on by your organization in this area.

To that end, I will start submitting tips whenever I see errors in the coverage of issues relating to mental illness, specifically as it deals to policy issues about homelessness and incarceration.

However, I want to address an even more disturbing issue of your own reporting. The first article that came up in my search was "WND touts book claiming liberalism is mental illness", dated Nov. 24, 2009. The last line of the article was "Given WND's track record, I can only assume WND is engaging in a Rovian effort to accuse their counterparts of their own shortcomings. "

Mental Illness is not a shortcoming. People with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, clinical depression and a list of other illnesses are sick, just like someone with Alzheimer’s. It is a brain disorder that affects the mind, but it is not a shortcoming. It is much more devastating.

By minimizing the often horrific effects of brain disorders categorized as "mental illnesses", you are creating an image of someone who has a mental illness as someone who can help himself or herself. People with brains disorders such as schizophrenia cannot help the fact that they are ill. They need treatment, not ridicule.

Not pointing that out in your critique of this book is just as damaging to the efforts made on behalf of the millions of people with real mental illnesses, as the claims made by the book itself are to liberalism.

Please, do a better job.

Sincerely,

Ilene Flannery Wells

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