More often than not, the media tends to get a few things wrong. When it comes to mental health, there is a lot of misconceptions and misinformation. This can have a negative effect on how people view others with mental health as well as discouraging someone with a mental illness. Here’s how the media’s portrayal of mental illness gets it wrong:
Criminals and Violence
Often times on TV shows and movies, a person effect by a mental illness will be labeled as the bad guy of the villain. However, there are studies to prove that individuals with mental illness less likely to commit violent crimes and are more likely to be victimized. Even with this fact, the media continues to show people with mental illness as evil individuals who are aggressive, dangerous, and inhuman. With this misconceived image in people’s minds, they are far less likely to treat someone in real life with a mental illness fairly and with respect.
There is a lot of stigma around mental illnesses that are a direct result of media. When it comes to the severity of some illnesses, the media will often dramatize it. They are often shown to be s either not being severe or being less severe than it really is. A good example of this is bulimia or anorexia. This condition is often portrayed to be less severe and can also be used as a joke or punchline. Portraying it as less severe than it really is or glossing over the horrible mental effect it has on a person can lead to an individual not seeking help or their condition not taken seriously.
Recovery is Impossible
In books, TV shows, movies, and even in magazines, there is a stigma that there is no recovery for someone with mental illness. A character with a mental illness in films and TV shows are never shown in recovery, conveying the belief that no hope for those with mental illness. What the media rarely shows is that therapy, medication, and peer support aid recovery from a mental illness. In reality, it is more than possible for a person with mental illness to go on to live a very normal and happy life.