Mental Illness In Popular Media Analysis

Powerful Essays
This paper will endeavour to explore ways in which the portrayal of issues surrounding mental illness in popular media impacts societal perception of the subject matter. The media I chose to analyze for this purpose is a popular American teen-drama television-series called 90210. The reason I chose this particular show is because I wanted to focus my analysis on the effects the portrayal of mental health in popular media has on the awareness the school-aged population in North America have of this topic. The target audience of 90210 is between ages of 18-24, making this TV-show a perfect candidate for my intended analysis. I speculate that many teenagers who watched this show had their first encounter with a mental illness through it, making …show more content…
The character struggling with mental health is Erin Silver – a 15-year-old girl with a cool and quirky personality. Occasionally, she displays rebellious qualities and may appear as somewhat emotionally-troubled which one might attribute to the struggles in her childhood. Silver’s character is complex and although she exemplifies the behaviour of a …show more content…
The Canadian public undeniably relies on mass media as its primary source of information. However, when it comes to mental illness, the media tends to skew reality. For better or worse, the media shapes our ideas and ways in which we understand those around us. For those suffering from mental illnesses, the implications of the often negative and inaccurate portrayals of mental health issues are significant. Inaccurate information in the media about mental illness, even if the portrayal of an individual is positive, results in misunderstandings that can have considerable and very real consequences. For example, inaccurate depictions of bipolar disorder can lead to false beliefs, confusion, conflict, and a delay in receiving treatment. Unlike physical ailments, many mental illnesses are associated with stigma. Whether it is self-directed or from society, dealing with this “shame” can be debilitating and interfere with daily living. The mentally ill continue to receive negative attention, largely due to fear and prejudice. People who suffer from mental illness are often pushed to the fringes of, or are directly excluded from, society (Baun, 2009). 90210's portrayal of adult behaviour in response to Silver's cry for help is consistent with the Special Report on CBC – “Off Course

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Satisfactory Essays

    The media has always been a great influential factor when it cam to people's opinions and viewpoints, no matter the subject. It seems like there were more negative views of mental illnesses and disorders in the past compared to now. Back then, it was like being stuck with the label of a mental illness was taboo. The majority of society saw persons who had a mental disease as unstable and dangerous. The book even mentions that having a mental disorder "was considered disgraceful." People were labeled faster than they were treated. I don't think it's as bad now as it was then. Lately, I think the media has done a better job than before at shining light on those that suffer from mental illness and focusing on ways to support and help them instead…

    • 157 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    When visiting any well-known social network geared towards teens and adolescents, it takes but a few minutes to encounter a post that glorifies a disturbed mind. However, being mentally disturbed does not make a person beautiful. Many teens and adolescents believe that fabricating and self-diagnosing certain mental illnesses are a way to gain peer acceptance and to stand apart from the crowd. Although this belief may seem harmless, the glamorization of mental illnesses can create severe physical and emotional problems for teens. The most common mental issues that teens tend to glamorize are of self-mutilation, anxiety disorders, and depression.…

    • 1637 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    society today, often showing those with a mental illness as the “bad guy”, these concerns expressed in…

    • 589 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    We tend to hear a lot in the media that most violence comes from people with mental illness, but do we really know if this is the truth? As Anaya states in her essay “Mental Illness on Television” that “the media tend to always isolate or not mention people with a disability or show that they are not normal which is wrong” (54). This relates to Nancy Mairs essay “Disability” were she talks about physical disability and how the media doesn’t show it as a normal feature of life, but since she wrote it thirty years ago there has been progress in the media. On the other hand Anaya‘s main point is that the media should show mental illness as a feature of normal life as well not a threat which I strongly agree with.…

    • 537 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Mental illnesses are often stigmatized and ridiculed, and many people have difficulty grasping how serious they can be. The public’s major concern in this controversy would be recidivism. But once people are educated they will realize that many mental illnesses are treatable and their victims can lead productive lives in society if they receive proper help and medications. Public fear or rejection may lead a victim of mental illness to self-harm or more violence. The tragic crime has happened because of an illness and it does not mean that the victims will always be predisposed to violence. What they need is understanding, treatment, and acceptance. Tim Mclean’s family, maybe with time, has an opportunity to help educate Canadians about mental…

    • 145 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Ashley Smith Inhumane

    • 962 Words
    • 4 Pages

    Over the years, mentally ill persons, especially the youths, have been the subject of harsh treatment by the society. Such is the case given they portrayal as criminals that need incarceration to rectify their behavior. A depiction of this kind does not reflect the sympathetic character that human beings must exhibit when dealing with the mentally ill. Mental illness is like any other type of medical conditions that requires equal and nonjudgmental treatment and care of sufferers of this fate. In illustration of how the society has failed on this account is a case study of Ashley Smith who undergoes painful experiences until her dying day. She is a young mentally ill Canadian woman whose experiences are unthinkable and inhumane given the obligation…

    • 962 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    PSY394 Study Guide 1

    • 417 Words
    • 2 Pages

    Robert W. Johnson Foundation, (1990-1991) survey – most ppl reported that they got knowledge about mental illnesses from mass media…

    • 417 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Mental Illness and Movies

    • 693 Words
    • 3 Pages

    To start off, I will define terms associated with my topic: PsychoMedia - the combined effect of exploitation movies and biased news reports which stereotype mental health recipients leading to the implied conclusion that all people labeled mentally-ill are violent and deranged, widespread belief - the stereotype is argued to be true because it is widely held to be true, prejudicial language - negative value or moral judgement is attached to the stereotype, intentional exclusion - evidence that would or could disprove the stereotype is hidden or concealed, misleading generalization - the evidence is unrepresentative of the population cited as a whole, and emotional appeal - the audience is persuaded to agree through emotion, not through logic or facts. Next, I will discuss theories concerning my topic. Two mass communication theories, cultivation theory and social learning theory, are particularly helpful to understanding how the media act as a socializing agent and thus may influence the construction and perpetuation of mental illness stigma. Cultivation theory suggests that heavy exposure to consistent and recurrent messages on television will "reiterate, confirm, and nourish" values and shape perceptions of social reality to conform to those presented on television (Gerbner et al. 2002, p. 49). According to cultivation theory, Gerbner and his colleagues submit that "those who spend more time 'living' in the world of television are more likely to see the 'real world' in terms of the images, values, portrayals, and ideologies that emerge through the lens of television" (Gerbner et…

    • 693 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    I concur that the movies, television, media want to coin mental health issues as a crazy disease as it attracts attention thus makes them more visible and more profitable in those medias. Unfortunately, people who suffer from mental illness is not portrayed in most cases correctly. What happens to those who are suffering such debilitating disorders sees this kind of portrayal it brings their disorders to a higher level causing more harm than good. We have to understand that people who suffer from such afflictions are not the disheveled, homeless, drug addicted, alcohol addicted crazy person. They can be people holding a job in a three-piece suit and you would never know they are fighting demons unless they acted out or told you. It is not…

    • 152 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    Modern day culture has evolved so much that talking about mental health on a daily basis is pretty common. People are more open about it and this helps them get over it easily. It is acknowledged and treated well enough.…

    • 933 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The article I choose was “How Mental Illness is Misrepresented in the Media” Written By Kirstin Fawcett. It says how TV shows, video games, movies, and comics wronging portrayal disorders such as bipolar, schizophrenia and depression. They usually show the mental illness stereotypical or the negative. The mentally ill are commonly described as incompetent, dangerous, slovenly and others kind stereotypes. Some Tv shows and movie make an effort to portray a more realistic characterization of people with mental illness. Some examples are “Homeland” where bipolar disorder is shown and “A beautiful Mind” where schizophrenia is shown, this TV show and movie displays the reality of this two disorder and not the typical stereotype. Some inaccurate…

    • 387 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    “They are dangerous, compulsive, unpredictable, weird looking, needs to be on medication” are the usual responses one may receive when asking the question “What do you think about people who suffer from mental illnesses”? Unfortunately, media has depicted individuals who suffer from any mental disorders unfairly for several years. Often, people are generated to accept behaviors that they often see happening in “real” time such as movies, T.V shows, news announcements, or even reading books. This can be shown in the movie Silver Linings Playbook, actresses Catherine Zeta-Jones and Amanda Bynes. Some people may become enraged when noticing how the media depicts individuals who suffer with mental disorders within the surrounding society. However,…

    • 456 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    agree with you that media can portray mental illness and link it to violent actions. I remember watching many crime actions shows that demonstrated some perpetrators to have mental illness and cannot stop their killing due to their illness. Due to this exposure people can see mental health issues differently. I personally think schools can educate students more in there health classes and by doing this it will raise more awareness to the false stigma mental illness is perceived…

    • 80 Words
    • 1 Page
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Better Essays

    “Mass media interventions for reducing mental health-related stigma” set out to find if mass media interventions, an expensive alteration to individual reform, are worthwhile. Each intervention was evaluated for the nature of such intervention, content and type, collected from 11 scholarly databases. 22 studies from 4490 participants were chosen, all random trials with five discrimination outcomes, having no evidence of effect, and three trials with continuous outcomes, with a negative effect on viewers. Similar to the discrimination trials, interventions with prejudice outcomes were found to favor the interventions. In conclusion the data collected found that stigmatism in the interventions collected had a small to medium effectiveness in reducing viewer’s bias. Specifically, prejudice was slightly reduced in each trial, but discrimination was found as a harder problem to solve. In order to further diminish prejudice and specifically discrimination, more research must be collected in these interventions in order to determine which mass media interventions work most…

    • 4953 Words
    • 20 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Better Essays

    Mental health disorders for quite some time have appeared to be an underlying topic. It seems to be that only recently throughout society, mental health disorders has been a topic we are able to discuss and be forward about. One could say that some reasons for having this topic in the dark is because society associates mental disorders with being crazy or unstable, therefore those who do not experience mental disorders cannot relate to these people and assume their thought process is along the lines of crazy and overall would rather not associate with that. Within society recently it appears that mental health issues are a topic that is being brought forward in showing that anyone who one could even least suspect has a form of a mental disability, ensuring that mental disorders are not necessarily linked to being crazy. In 2012 the movie Silver Linings Playbook came out and showed various types of mental disorders and how those experiencing them deal with it. The movie shows the characters daily struggles and how they overcome them taking it one day at a time. This movie gives an accurate look at disorders such as bi-polar, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, attention deficit disorder and minor bits of schizophrenia. Nonetheless, this paper will go on to discuss with specific examples of the characters and their disorders with comparison to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. This comparison will show how the characters portray the type of disorder they face and how accurate the characters thoughts and actions are in comparison to how the DSM describes each disorder outlined. Overall with examples such as Silver Linings Playbook, it shows society that those with mental disorders have their own struggles they face and those who cannot relate just need to be supportive rather than toss around terms like…

    • 1982 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Better Essays