Imani Tafari-Ama | Mental health is a human right

imani_tafari_ama_mental_health_is_a_human_right.jpg /

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and citizens are being encouraged to wear lime green on Tuesdays in solidarity with protagonists of preventative methods of promoting a clean bill of health for beleaguered brains. The stressor of mental health underperformance is an indicator of psychosocial dysfunction.

This problem is often difficult to discern, however, because of its stealth and the slippery slope it slithers through the human psyche. While multiple efforts are devoted to raising public awareness about mental health and its converse, mental ill health, it is also a difficult problem to tackle. This elusiveness persists because of the stigma attached to any indicator of compromised mind capabilities. This discomfort is not the same with physical ailments. Somehow, the mindscape malfunctions cause people to be afraid to disclose the problems they may be experiencing in this domain.

The mass-shooting attack in Buffalo recently, which left 10 African Americans dead, was a deliberate act of racist terror. Yet the perpetrator, 18-year-old Payton Gendron of Conklin, New York, is claiming self-defence, by reason of insanity, as the legal response. Should this act be included in the category of a mental health deficit? Surely, this intentional enactment of a hate crime cannot be categorised in the same slot as someone who is suffering from the «natural» impact of stress or broken brain synapses. However, Gendron, whose obsession with murder-suicide, was played out in his presentation of a school project on the subject a year earlier, should not benefit from the bly of being categorised as insane as a ploy to get away with murder. On the other hand, he does make a good point. Perhaps we should define racism as a mental-health infraction.

Eurocentric categorisation of indigenous people – Africans, Indians, Chinese among other so-called «races» – as inferior to Europeans provided the basis for the building of a global capitalist system. The success of this sleight-of-hand is sheer madness.

RACIST RELATIONS OF LABOUR Enslavement enriched Europe and was dependent on racist relations of labour and power that served to dehumanise Africans. This enduring system of colonialism must, surely, qualify for the definition of insanity. What is deemed normal, therefore, must be seen as an existential aberration. European leaders resist paying reparations with the disclaimer that «it was legal» back in the day. Aha! That did not make it right. Or sane. Racism is dependent on a flawed perception of the world and the peoples in it. The reproduction of such dissonance is also tantamount to madness.

Headlines Delivered to Your Inbox Sign up for The Gleaner’s morning and evening newsletters.
LINK ORIGINAL: Jamaica Gleaner