A challenge for you. Here are six direct quotes from President Trump illustrating his knowledge and sentiments about mental illness and mental health peers. Half are from four years ago prior to the POTUS election, stuff he said after two newscasters were shot and killed on live TV. Half are from the last four days, stuff he said after 29 people were shot and killed in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

Can you correctly choose the quotes from four years ago and the quotes from the last four days?

Quote #1: “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.”

Quote #2: “This isn’t a gun problem, this is a mental problem. It’s not a question of the laws, it’s really the people.”

Quote #3: “We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people, not only get treatment, but when necessary, involuntary confinement.”

Quote #4: “In the old days they had mental institutions for people like this because he was really, definitely borderline and definitely would have been and should have been institutionalized. At some point somebody should have seen that, I mean the people close to him should have seen it”

Quote #5: “This is also a mental illness problem. These are people that are very, very seriously mentally ill.”

Quote #6: “I guarantee you there are a couple of people that knew this man that did the killing yesterday that probably said, ‘Wow he’s really got problems I mean he really should be institutionalized’.”

Difficult challenge, yes? That the challenge is so difficult is the core of what troubles me so viscerally.

The way I see it is our leaders have the supreme responsibility to be well-informed, reasonable, and caring. That Mr. Trump’s recent comments – and past comments – perpetuate the fallacy “mental illness means you’re intellectually deficient and inherently violent” illustrates he outright fails all three criteria.

His statements on mental illness from four years ago are indistinguishable from his statements over the past four days. He’s had four years to learn and understand. And now he’s upped his terrifying rhetoric to include overtly championing involuntary confinement for peers who MIGHT commit acts of violence.

Whoops. I gave away one of the answers to the challenge.

How does this affect my behavioral health advocacy? I’m not willing or able to sit by passively as our highest leadership calls for a federal tag and release program with suspended habeus corpus, as if the decade-long bitter arguments over Kendra’s Law never happened. So, my advocacy remains unwavered. I’ll continue challenging ignorance and all the consequences and ramifications of unchecked ignorance. The six quotes in this challenge are the epitome of behavioral health ignorance.

It’s disingenuous saying an article like this isn’t politicized. By default, when a politician makes any public comment it’s politicized. For me, this transcends political affiliation. This is about one man in a position of almost unquestionable authority over our society and communities steadfast in his divisive and dangerous rhetoric. As a peer advocate, I don’t have the luxury of choosing a political party to root for. Every politician is equally scrutinized. Mr. Trump concerns me greatly.

And, again, I voted for my Dad for POTUS. Three elections in a row. And I’ll continue to do so until I’m presented a candidate worthy of my vote.

Are you curious if you aced the challenge?

Quotes from four years ago: 2, 4, 6.

Quotes from last four days: 1, 3, 5.