So this petition is going around demanding that Donald Trump undergo a psychiatric evaluation in order to determine his “mental fitness for the job” of President. I understand that people don’t like Trump. I’m not going to debate his politics or persona here because it isn’t the place for that, but do understand that I get it. Even with that understanding, this petition (and the public conversation around it) is gross. It implies several things about people with mental illness that are stigmatizing, discriminatory, and just plain wrong.

  1. It says that people with mental illness can’t be leaders.
    People with mental illness have been told since the beginning of our modern species that they can’t. Can’t raise children, can’t have jobs, can’t live normal lives, can’t be leaders, can’t have responsibilities, can’t, can’t, can’t. It’s wrong. I was told that I couldn’t handle a job or finish college, but I have a 4.0 GPA, two jobs, and two volunteer positions. And yes, I have the “severe and persistent mental illness” sticker on my forehead.
  2. It says that people with mental illness act the way that Donald Trump does.
    People with mental illnesses do not behave in one singular way. Even people with personality disorders, like this petition alleges, do not have a singular type of personality based on their diagnosis. We already face a lot of presumption about who we are because of our stickers, and making the presumption that we’re like Donald Trump is just revolting.
  3. It says that armchair diagnosing is okay.
    Yeah, yeah, the petition is for an actual evaluation, but the call for an evaluation is based on armchair diagnosing. You cannot tell if someone has a mental illness based on their media presence. You cannot tell what mental illness someone has either. It is inappropriate to speculate upon the diagnoses of anyone if you do not know them personally and/or are not qualified to make a diagnosis.
  4. It says that anyone who behaves like Donald Trump must have mental illness.
    This promotes public fear. Anyone who kills a bunch of people must have mental illness. Anyone who neglects their child must have mental illness. Anyone who is a loud and obnoxious attention-seeker must have mental illness. Sometimes there are just bad people and mental illness doesn’t have anything to do with it. Equating the two makes people scared of people with mental illness and scared of getting help if they think they might have it too.
  5. It says that employment discrimination is okay if it comes to mental illness.
    This is literally against the law.
  6. Public discussion about it says that the word “crazy” is okay.
    Crazy is not a nice word. I know that there’s been some backlash about this topic with people saying that they don’t mean mentally ill, they just mean erratic and unpredictable. But honestly, that’s no better than calling him retarded and saying you don’t actually mean developmentally disabled, you just mean narrow-minded and unintelligent.

Quit trying to diagnose Trump. It’s okay to loudly dislike him, but it’s not okay to throw a fifth of Americans under the bus while you do it.

Kate Fitch

I've been with the Network since 2015, when I started as a volunteer. I've been on staff as the Communications Specialist since January 2017. I'm currently in college and pursuing a dual BA in Public Health and Public Administration. I'm most passionate about making sure that people with mental health conditions are fairly represented in the media, at policy tables, and in treatment system planning. In my spare time, I like to crochet, knit, and be the best cat mom ever.

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