As Cheri mentioned, I am in the flu-zone. So I apologize for my tardiness and intend to make it up with two posts today. This one will be an introduction to an upcoming series in collaboration with one of our friends from the Banana Bunch:
As stated in a post long ago, Cheri and the rest of my friends are quite amazing. One goes by Sanjiv and is a doctoral student of child clinical psychology. Most of her research and experience focuses on PTSD. One day I asked her: What’s the biggest problem you have with inaccurate portrayals of mental illness in media?
Increases in stigma against those with mental disorders, inaccuracies about mental health are perpetuated, the way they are portrayed can often cause those who are experiencing mental health issues to have negative perceptions of themselves and discourage them from seeking treatment. Treatment is often portrayed as ineffective.
This got me thinking about all of the portrayals in media I had seen. I couldn’t decide what was accurate and what wasn’t. When reading or telling Sanjiv about depictions I had come across, especially those about children, she gets very passionate about the misconceptions and inaccuracies that are portrayed.
I suffer from depression and anxiety. This is the most common diagnosis in America, but I know, that often when I read about characters who are said to be suffering from depression, I feel as though my depression is somehow less than or I don’t have the history to be depressed. I am the median of median — the epitome of the norm so having depression seems so out of the blue and unprecedented. It feels like there needed to be a catalyst, some kind of precipitating event. Or because I am able to function in the world that my depression is somehow unlike and less than those who would be unable.
The stigma that a lot of the mental illnesses have make misunderstandings easy to perpetuate. It can be difficult for a person to be open about their mental health because of the stigma that surrounds those who are experiencing a mental disorder. This can prevent some from speaking out about the inaccuracies we see in books and movies, which then lead to continued and sometimes increased stigmatization and the perpetuation of misinformation. How often have you said that someone who gets mad for no apparent reason is bipolar?
Hank Green recently had a series that was similar to this, but as OkPotato, we’re focusing on literary portrayals and plan on giving you examples of bad interpretations, good interpretations and general knowledge about: Major Depressive Disorder, Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, and Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa, mostly focusing on children (defined as ages 0-18).
Throughout the next few months, Sanjiv and I will bring to you these posts to generate more discussion on the topic of mental health in media and to increase awareness of the importance of accurate portrayals of mental health.
Are there any mental illnesses you’ve seem portrayed particularly badly? Or maybe particularly well? Let us know in the comments!