d12PHIL-1009x1023I received the following email from NBC news about a blog that I wrote chastising Brian Williams for stigmatizing remarks that he made in a recent broadcast when he referred to Ariel Castro, the Cleveland kidnapper/rapist who held three women captive for a decade, as “arguably the face of mental illness.” 

Hi Pete – I work with Brian Williams at NBC News. We wanted to reach out to clarify the situation and offer our apology: 

Brian immediately realized the error of his words, and he updated the broadcast to omit that phrase for later feeds. The corrected video that aired in the rest of the country that night is online here: http://nbcnews.to/15hPKrE. We sincerely apologize for the unintended offense caused by these remarks and hope you can forgive the mistake.

Erika Masonhall 
NBC News Communications 

I am grateful that NBC has apologized.

Unfortunately, no such apology has been issued by Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil for their blatant stigmatizing remarks despite calls from the National Alliance on Mental Illness and, more recently, a call from Mental Health America for Dr. Phil to apologize. [See below]

Instead, both of them continue to ignore complaints, removing them from their websites as soon as they are posted. It is interesting that a journalist feels obligated to apologize but two men who are health care professionals continue to hide.


ALEXANDRIA, Va. (August 5, 2013)—Statement of Wayne W. Lindstrom, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America: 

“Mental Health America calls on syndicated talk show host Dr. Phil to issue a retraction for reckless and offensive remarks he made about individuals who live with mental illness (During his show, Dr. Phil said people who are insane ‘suck on rocks and bark at the moon.’) 

“Comments like these, particularly from a professional psychologist, perpetuate inaccurate and harmful stereotypes that marginalize millions of Americans. These statements only produce shame and embarrassment when we should be promoting understanding. They diminish the contributions of millions of Americans and discourage individuals from seeking treatment for mental health conditions that allow them to achieve recovery and live full and productive lives. 

“Dr. Phil’s comments are particularly inappropriate in the light of the National Dialogue now occurring around the country, which was launched by President Obama during the White House National Conference on Mental Health and is designed to promote greater understanding and awareness about mental health.

 “As the President said: ‘We can help people who suffer from a mental illness continue to be great colleagues, great friends, the people we love. We can take But some pain and give them a new sense of hope. But it requires all of us to act.’

“The media and television personalities play an influential role in informing public opinion. They can either perpetuate misinformation and misunderstanding surrounding mental illness or they can work to enlighten and educate. 

“We urge Dr. Phil, given his national platform as an authority on mental health and well-being, to retract his comments. It will go a long way toward further enhancing his credibility and changing the conversation around mental health. Our expectation is no less than for Dr. Phil to enlighten and educate when it comes to mental illness.”

Mental Health America (www.mentalhealthamerica.net), founded in 1909, is the nation’s leading community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our 240 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and Delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.