Clinical key question: How are mental health issues portrayed in the media?
Clinical key question:
How are mental health issues portrayed in the media?
Describing the issue
72% of characters with mental illness depicted in prime time T.V were violent
Other studies show them to be unemployable or failing at work
Wilson et al (1999)
New Zealand study - thematic analysis shows danger, unpredictability and incompetence in portrayals of mental illness, and the overall portrayal was "outstandingly negative"
According to Time to Change, an organization which influences the public attitude towards mental illness, the way mental illness is portrayed and reported is powerful in educating and influencing the public.
BMA heavily condemns negative images of patients in the media
The stigma of being mentally ill is worse than the illness itself
9 out of 10 said they have suffered from stigma and discrimination which has impacted their lives negatively
Analyzed prime time T.V in USA over a 2 week period
Found 32% of programmes had at least 1 character with mental illness and this character was 10x more violent than the general population of characters
50% of violent offences committed by someone mentally ill
Explaining the issue
The mass media is the primary source of info for the public about mental health, yet contains misinformation and inaccurate terminology
Helps us understand why mentally ill are portrayed in exaggerated and stereotypical manners
Dramatic depictions of the illness can lead to increased views, positively reinforcing
This may lead to reinforcement of inaccurate negative portrayals, which can then lead to real life prejudicial attitudes and discrimination
General public becoming more aware of mental health issues due to more positive and realistic portrayals recently
Soaps receiving encouragement from mental health organizations, which may become positively reinforced to continue developing such characters who will dispel stereotypical views
This change might be a reflection of increased awareness of complexities in disorders
Exposed poor treatment of mentally ill in institutions
Few documentaries or studies looking at real patient/doctor interaction
Growth in documentaries focusing on mental health and therapy increases public awareness, promoting more understanding
Also showed normal behaviour can be interpreted as symptomatic of a disorder once a label is applied
If information about mental health is negative, behaviour of those labelled with the disorder can be interpreted as negative
Media as a causal factor
Found idealizations of 'skinny as beautiful' has impacted the disorder's growth
Anorexia non-existent before T.V was introduced to Fiji
Lee and Lee (2000)
Found exposure to western media may have contributed to its growth in westernized areas of China