Dear Congresswoman Bass,
I am writing to you as a Democrat, a mental health advocate, a graduate student in clinical and counseling psychology, and as someone who deals with mental health problems himself. These aspects of me are important to know because when I saw your Change.org petition to #DiagnoseTrump, each of these aspects reacted in a different way.
As a Democrat, I don’t disagree with your concern about the behavior of Donald Trump and his ability to lead his country. But as a Democrat – as a voter – I don’t need a diagnosis to know I’m not voting for Mr. Trump this fall. Attacks on not only the character of an individual but on their health are not the way I want my party to lead their campaign.
As a mental health advocate, I have worked with organizations like Active Minds to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and illness. Petitions like these stigmatize mental health because they diminish the severity Mr. Trump’s beliefs, feelings, and behaviors possess on their own, and instead contribute them to mental illness. When events and individuals in the world make us uncomfortable, it is easy to turn to an explanation like mental illness. I urge you not to make the same connection.