NY advocates say mentally ill are maligned

January 4, 2013

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Advocates say the mentally ill are far more likely to be victims of violence than to be attackers, faulting media reports and gun rights interests for perpetuating inaccurate stigmas following recent crimes, including the Connecticut school shootings by a reportedly troubled 20-year-old.

Harvey Rosenthal, executive director of the New York Association of Rehabilitation Services, says referring to the mentally ill with phrases like "violent psychotics" and "monsters" vilifies one-fifth of Americans who have various psychiatric disabilities.

He says defamatory media will shame and deter many from seeking help, though most can substantially recover from disabling conditions with personalized services.

Rosenthal and other advocates said recent emphasis on 24-hour emergency phone lines, peer support, housing, family services, managed care and outreach are showing results.

Associated Press 2013