A Bernie Sanders joke at a recent debate is not going down well with mental health advocates.
Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders may have just made an ill-advised and politically damaging joke during a debate with Hillary Clinton in Flint, Mich.
“You know, we are, if elected president, going to invest a lot of money into mental health. And when you watch these Republican debates, you know why we need to invest in that,” Sanders quipped during the debate.
Not surprisingly, this light-hearted comment did not sit well with mental health advocates, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
The Ruderman Family Foundation put out a statement slamming the comments, pointing out that millions of Americans struggle with mental health and arguing that to use the problem to joke about Republicans was inappropriate. Jay Ruderman, the foundation’s president, called for Sanders to issue an apology.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines mental health as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Surprisingly, the CDC estimates that only 17 percent of adults in the United States are in optimal mental health. Depression is the most common mental illness, affecting 26 percent of U.S. adults.
“When millions of Americans deal with issues of mental health it was highly inappropriate for Senator Bernie Sanders to use a real disability as a joke in last night’s Democratic presidential debate,” Ruderman said in the statement. “He should issue an immediate apology to Americans with mental health disabilities.”
He added: “During this year’s presidential campaign several candidates have used people’s real disabilities in derogatory terms. People with disabilities make up twenty percent of the American public and as the largest minority in our country, they deserve respect from the men and women running to hold the highest office in the land.”