Mental Health in Media: Its Stigma and Stereotypes

Presented by Meg Isbitski, LCSW

We will discuss the inaccurate and harmful depictions of mental health in the media. There will be an explanation of how these depictions relate to stigma and perpetuating stereotypes from a personal and societal perspective. Special considerations include different cultural lenses and how this affects our ideas of experiences with mental health and how this can desensitize us to empathy, treatment, and reaching out. TS is generally misrepresented in the media, especially Coprolalia, the typical portrayal of TS. Also considered is the opposite end of the spectrum, the dangerous romanticization of mental health conditions.

Meg Isbitski

Meg Isbitski is a Licensed Social Worker from Central New Jersey, who received her Master’s Degree from Rutgers University, with a concentration in Management and Policy. She is professionally interested in making individuals, families, and communities more sustainable through accessibility to treatment and services, public policy and procedure, and improving quality of life opportunities. She is passionate about education, advocacy, and representation of vulnerable populations.

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1:24 The New Jersey Center for … Syndrome, it’s Associated Disorders, And its directors and employees assume no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, objectivity, or usefulness of the information presented on our site. We do not endorse any recommendation, or opinion made, by any member or physician. Nor do we advocate for early treatment. You are responsible for your own medical decisions. 1:51 Now, I’d like to introduce our speaker for tonight, Meg. Meg … is a licensed social worker from Central New Jersey who received her master’s degree from Rutgers University with a concentration in management and policy. She is professionally interested in making individuals, families, communities, more sustainable through the accessibility and Treatment Services, public policy, and procedure and improving quality of life opportunities. 2:21 She is passionate about education, advocacy, and representation of vulnerable populations. 2:30 Meg? It’s wonderful to have you here tonight. We look forward to your presentation. 2:35 And you should have the button to press now. 2:44 Thank you, Kelly. I’m going to go ahead. 2:46 Are you able to see mine, My PowerPoint? 2:52 Yes, I am. 2:53 OK, wonderful. Well, thank you so much for the introduction and the opportunity to present tonight. I will be talking about mental health and stigma and how it’s portrayed in the media. So as Kelly said, my name is Maggie …. I’m a licensed social worker in the mental health field in Central New Jersey. 3:15 So what I really would like to talk about today our before we go into the depictions of mental health and mental illness in the media and a little bit about how things are romanced. I really would like to just define mental health and stigma, because I’m gonna say, mental health 100 times during this presentation. And I’d like everybody to be on the same wavelength, in terms of understanding what that means, and what it looks like. 3:42 So we’ll define mental health and stigma look into some harmful stereotypes that are perpetuated by the media. 3:51 We’re going to recognize some of this sensationalism that comes on the other end of the mental health spectrum. 3:58 And, lastly, we’re going to just try to end on a positive note to see some positive examples and reflect on some things in the media that that aren’t as harmful. 4:10 So what is mental health? 4:11 I think the simplest way to describe it really is, how we think, how we feel, and how we interact with the world. I know that’s probably not how it’s defined often, but it really is our emotional response to our actions, our relationships with other people, and our ideas of what is safe and what isn’t safe. 4:36 And I really like to talk about mental health through the eight dimensions of wellness. So this is a framework that was developed that looks a little further than just the mind body or even the mind body spirit experience that we have been told a lot lately about the interconnectedness. I think it’s a lot deeper than that. And I think cov it has been a really good example of how all of these things can be affected and the relationship to one another, how they’re all really intertwined and how we need all of these pieces to be relatively functional in order for our own happiness, healthy, and successful lives. And that can look completely different for every single person. 5:23 We all have different needs and goals, but really, these entities, making sure that where we live, where we work, our income, our relationships, they all contribute to our emotional health and our ability to really think and feel safely. 5:43 And lastly, I just want to say, I really believe mental health to be a spectrum. A lot of times, we think as of health, as either black or white. So you’re either sick, or you’re well. 5:55 And I really like thinking about mental health as more of a heartbeat monitor, because it’s not so linear, you don’t kind of just go from one, end to the binary to the next. There are a lot of things that can influence our lives, depending on what we’re experiencing, and what’s happened to us, and just as we change and grow. So it would make sense that our mental health changes and grows with us. So I just want to emphasize that because I think a lot of times we perceive ourselves to be of a certain age, status, et cetera, and that we should be at a certain place with our mental health and stability. But it’s going to change throughout our lives. 6:37 And I do really want to reflect on what is considered a life experience and what then becomes a diagnosable condition. 6:46 Cause I think really everybody can relate to feeling, anxious, stressed, or depressed, confused any of these and a whole lot more of symptoms. just because we are human and we do go through life and we are affected by things. So this is completely normal human reactions, and I do really want to emphasize that. 7:10 But when they are temporary, and when they’re manageable, when they’re shorter term, and they aren’t affecting our lives negatively, In the long run, we really look at diagnoses by how they negatively affect us. So our quality of life and our ability to function. 7:32 And I know mental health can be really viewed as a beautiful thing that makes us creative and diverse and multi-faceted, but the way that we look at a diagnosis is more almost a deficit. 7:46 So, they are based on duration. 7:49 You know, how long you are dealing with these symptoms, or changes in thought patterns, um, the severity, because, you know, we can have a multitude of diagnoses that you’re not going to experience the same level of symptoms. You know, they are mild, moderate, and severe a lot across a lot of a lot of these diagnoses. 8:13 And it can range from, you know, changes in our appetite, changes in concentration or ability to sleep versus really intrusive symptoms of hallucinations, delusions, panic attacks, you know, wanting to harm yourself. So I think we have to look at it from that view. 8:36 We also kind of look at the life aspects are that are affected, which is where the, the eight dimensions of wellness come back into play as well, because they we have to look at, is this affecting your relationships. Your ability to have a job, or get finance is coming into your household. You’re able to keep a housing situation. 9:02 And also, our insight and our self-awareness, Because we could be experiencing some pretty severe symptoms. But if we have Insight and we’re able to kind of separate, you know, how we think, and how we feel with the reality of what we’re experiencing, that allows us to be way more self-aware and more likely accepting of help and changes that could be for the benefit. 9:30 So now let’s talk a little bit about this Figure one in five. This is the number of people that live with a diagnosable mental health condition, and this is a statistic that is quoted fairly regularly. It really comes from NAMI, which is the National Alliance of Mental Illness, but this is not an exact science because if you notice we say a diagnosable mental health condition, so not a diagnosis and this is done through a lot of self reporting. Because unfortunately, in terms of mental health, you can often take a blood test or some kind of medical intervention that will show what diagnosis you have. A lot of it is related to self reporting and our own symptoms. So it can also be more complicated by, depending on that insight, that self-awareness and other aspects. 10:26 So the World Health Organization states depression as the leading cause of disability worldwide, and yet, less than half of people, that. 10:37 Less than half of that one in five, actually, do seek treatment. And treatment being a break, A big umbrella term. That could be counseling, medication, support groups, wellness, Really, anything. But less than half of people that would have a benefit to it, don’t seek it out. 10:57 And that reason is stigma. 11:00 That has been the reported number one reason why people do not seek services for their mental health, or substance use disorders. There is a massive stigma where people might not want to be associated with having some kind of issue or struggle that is not physical. 11:19 And I find that really interesting, because there are so many other barriers to mental health care, in terms of insurance, availability, and waiting lists, and even transportation. 11:32 So, the fact that stigma is our number one barrier always strikes me as interesting, because I think it’s the one that we have the most power and control over. 11:41 And even right now, I perceived this opportunity to present, as a way to reduce stigma, by just talking about mental health and normalizing things. 11:51 So I appreciate everybody being here, and also contributing to that. 11:56 So for those of you who don’t really know what stigma is or how it’s really defined in this context, it’s really just a negative negative depiction. So a negative association of a certain membership or characteristic. 12:12 So it’s usually something that’s in the minority that is easier, too. 12:17 Kind of stick out, and that can be labeled and excluded. 12:24 So I would say, even unrelated example to mental health is people with coven. There is a stigma against, and maybe not as much now, but there was a stigma, at a certain point, to having Cobin. 12:39 It’s really almost treated like Leprosy at one point, but people with mental health and substance use disorders, often live with high levels of stigma, And we’ll go into what that looks like, and who kind of perpetuates that. 12:55 So, in my opinion, there are three types of stigma. 12:59 There is the self stigma, so that is either information that has been told to you or that you’ve intaking or something internalized that you, you just believe about yourself, and it can limit our own perception of what we’re able to accomplish and our own limitations and also what we think we deserved or how we believe and feel about ourselves. 13:26 So, that can be incredibly limiting in terms of trying to seek any opportunity for support or relationships, or even any goals that you’d like to achieve in life, because you have this little voice in the back of your head telling you why you can’t do something. 13:48 There’s also interpersonal stigma. So, we see this a lot with how we treat other people, whether it’s a one-on-one, or it’s just how we treat a specific group or associations with specific qualities. So, this often just looks more like, I would say, avoidance rather than bullying. So, it’s less of an attack. 14:13 But, it’s more of just, not wanting to be associated with a certain kind of person and quality, just because of fear, I would say, of the unknown of these stereotypes or pre-conceived notions. You know that we perpetuate we see in society and that are just long held opinions. 14:36 And also we have public stigma. So, that’s what we see more. 14:40 So, in terms of systems, so are, know, our large societal values. 14:48 Our ability to navigate services, and, you know, even, there are some stigma is still in places like education, health care, you know, Using healthcare as an example, a lot of insurance companies don’t even cover mental health treatment. How they cover any kind of physical or other medical issue. 15:12 So, a lot of these common stereotypes that people don’t want to be associated with are that people with mental health conditions or addiction that they’re unintelligent, and that they’re loners, Usually they’re thought of as unstable. And I think that’s where a lot of the fear comes from that. People don’t know, you know, any experience that they’ve had. 15:35 They assume that people are, you know, a wildcard, or they’re not really to be trusted. 15:43 We also see this a lot as people lacking ability and autonomy, their thought that they’re not able to advocate for themselves or live successful lives, according to their own wants and needs. 15:55 And, also, sometimes, people are just thought of as strange and weird, and they’re not wanting to be associated with them. 16:05 And there’s this historic idea that I don’t really think anyone believes anymore. 16:10 But our history really taught us of how we treated mental illness in asylums. Was that we thought that people who had disabilities and severe mental illness actually felt less they didn’t feel cold and hot as much. And they were thought of, with lesser intelligence, and that they were actually less human. 16:32 And we also, sometimes there is still this thought that people with mental illness are depressed, or, excuse me, are dangerous and there is a, a historic thought that they were possessed by something, something supernatural, or otherworldly. 16:49 And so I think the depictions in the media often are negative and they are one sided. So they’re, unfortunately, not neutral. But they tend to be harmful. So somebody usually a character or in movies or TV. 17:07 Usually they are depicted as this is their only personality trait. So they are a personification of a symptom or a condition. 17:18 And they’re often unfortunately utilized as a punchline. 17:22 So their symptoms, their how they talk, think Act, is used to add levity and be a joke. 17:32 Oftentimes, if they’re drama just to move the …, they’re an antagonist and they exist really, too, be the villain. 17:41 Or be the person that asked to create the danger so that the danger can be resolved. 17:48 And a lot of times, they are depicted, as violent aggressors, which in, I think, is one of the most common depictions of severe mental illness, especially schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. 18:02 Yet the role of the media is not so focused on mental health. It is truly to inform, to entertain, and to suspend reality. So when I say the media, that’s really a blanket term for movies, television, news coverage, and even more recently social media because we can get there’s so much access to social media sites, YouTube, other networking, that this actually is such a source of information for people that it really needs to be included in this depiction. 18:38 But before we go into all the negatives, I do want to reflect that there are pros to accessing media and being able to have this coverage and what this gives to us, and even what we’re what we’re participating in right now. 18:56 So, the media can provide education, and expose us to new topics, that we wouldn’t necessarily have the opportunity to do firsthand things that we might not have ever experienced if we didn’t see it through a screen, more or less. 19:14 It can provide free access to information, you know, YouTube, news coverage. There’s so much more that we’re able to access. And I think that, you know, if you have some kind of internet access and some kind of device that, really can allow you to educate yourself and have that access that you might not have had before. 19:35 And simply can offer us entertainment, relaxation, and enjoyment. 19:43 But if there is a pro, there has to be a con so it can isolate or polarize an idea. I think the past couple of years have shown us this even with how we have as a society, reacted to our own politics and our own pandemic because this has really, I think the media has played a huge role in polarizing people to one side or another. When unfortunately I think there are really a lot of things that we do agree on as a society. 20:15 But you know, polarizing, just one idea, can really force these issues apart and almost can make them a little bit more intense or racal. 20:28 This can also disrupt your perception. 20:31 So if something’s taken out of context or you don’t necessarily know the full story or the background on something, you’re walking around without all of the information. 20:45 And lastly, things can just be incorrect or harmful. 20:51 Unfortunately the other side of the coin with free information access is that almost everybody is able to post share information, whether social media or what have you. You know we can all walk around like we’re reporters and that doesn’t necessarily vet anybody or give any credibility. 21:12 But unfortunately that can be taken without context without that vetting as some kind of. 21:21 So why is this problematic? 21:25 Because depictions of mental health and substance use, a lot of times they are for entertainment. 21:33 So in the movies and in music, they’re really seen as comedy, horror or thriller. You know, that’s kind of, it’s a negative depiction that is inaccurate. Unfortunately, that this is kind of the purpose of it. 21:50 And sometimes they can just incorrectly over represent symptoms and diagnoses. I think often what we see in terms of severe mental illness is many, many depictions of schizophrenia, which is actually way more infrequent than other diagnoses, the most common being depression and anxiety. 22:14 But and no, it’s more interesting and entertaining to see somebody having a schizophrenic episode or with a bipolar disorder and those symptoms that come with it. 22:28 And often this sensationalizes the experiences of somebody who does have a diagnosis without actually showcasing the reality. 22:38 So this goes back to them being onesided, and being subject it as only their, their symptom, or their diagnosis when people do live, full lives, and cope, and recover, and have many other things going on that they deal with outside of just their diagnosis. 22:58 And it, oftentimes, it’s not a human first perspective, or a person first perspective. So I think that this is something that we have done a really good job improving as a society in the past couple of years. We’ve really changed how we talk about people. We really want to include their perspective, but I think historically this hasn’t been how we treat mental illness, how we talk about, or how we present it. 23:29 And this is just a picture of the first insane asylum in the United States. So, back in the 16 and 17 hundreds, this is how we house people, and this is really one of the major depictions of mental health that we do see in movies. You know, we do find a lot of escapism. And, you know, some of these stories are really, truly fascinating. So these are a few that aren’t as recent. 23:58 But if you’ve seen any of these movies, they do all have an entertaining and somatic aspect to them. They often even utilize comedy and intelligent writing. But this really do showcase some of the realities of what being in a psychiatric hospital was. 24:19 So, bottome’s hydrotherapy, which is putting people in hot and cold baths to try to change their, their body temperature, their brain patterns. And just, you know, depicting people and straight jackets. And it shows a lot of the ways that we used to treat, but, you know, sometimes paired with a comedy. 24:44 It can give the wrong example of how we do view these depictions and how harmful they really were. 24:53 And usually, when we see somebody in a movie or some kind of story news coverage, they’re often depicted as unstable. 25:04 So, these are just a few examples and some are more recent than others. 25:10 The one on the bottom left actually, is about Trenton, a psychiatric hospital in New Jersey when they had a fire and called them roasted nuts. 25:20 So just even the way that people are depicted. 25:25 No things taken out of context, things, you know, just showcasing one quality of people, so they’re really often portrayed as slovenly or, you know, crazy eyes, not able to keep themselves taking care of or even understand, you know, their own presence. We see people really being incapable of making their own decisions. And I think that’s where that that idea of possession comes back in. And we also see them as dangerous or a wild card so people that can often be trusted or you just don’t know what they’re going to do. So it’s easier to just avoid them, keep them locked away and at a site. 26:08 And often they are emotionless and depicted as being without insight, not understanding what’s happening around them and having no separation of reality and fantasy. 26:23 So I’m going to show A a movie trailer for Donnie Darko and some of you may have seen this movie already. It’s a fairly popular movie Starting Starring Jake Gyllenhaal. But I just want to show this because I find it really interesting looking at it now, as a mental health professional than, I did when I was younger. And I loved science fiction, scary movies. Because I want you to really kind of look at it from the perspective of somebody who is depicted with paranoid schizophrenia. 26:53 But often us, excuse me, also being shown as unstable possessed, you know, the supernatural aspect and just, kind of, how you see that playing out. With him, all his life, pondered through the Seasons. 27:11 Now, it is 15th year crystallized with the pain of puberty. 27:20 Yeah. 27:25 Remove your contacts. 27:32 We’re kind of emotional. 27:35 Frank, Railroad imaginary. 27:39 Yeah. 27:41 I’m going to story today about a young man whose wife was completely destroyed by these instruments of fear. 27:50 It is experiencing what is commonly called good information. 27:57 To save my money. Has he ever told you about the giant rabbit? 28:09 Awesome. 28:12 For every learning train cars amongst the path, and if you could see your math or channel, then you could see into the future. 28:28 Not going to be able to continue this course. 28:36 What’s going to happen? 28:46 Her? 28:56 Stock? 28:59 Whew! 29:03 So just a small example, and that doesn’t mean that this movie isn’t entertaining or well done, or that it should be avoided, really? That’s not my point. I just want us to reflect on some of these depictions and how we can use mental health and mental illness as a way to almost scared people sometimes, because there is this separation between the actual diagnosis and what somebody who has paranoid schizophrenia feels like. 29:35 And then, surely can have hallucinations delusions, they could have somebody, they think, voices in their head, telling them that they need to end the world. But there just is a separation, you know there. 29:48 Paranoid schizophrenia. It’s not a pleasant diagnosis. 29:52 It’s a diagnosis where you feel a lot of stress, fear, paranoia, that you feel totally out of control and it’s incredibly invasive, and that’s just the separation I want to make without the science fiction, or the aspects of somebody being possessed. 30:12 And next, we often see, um, people depicted as this violent villin, so, often, it’s definitely on the more severe side, we don’t see this with a diagnoses of an eating disorder. 30:29 Or ADHD, we see this with how we, how we depict against schizophrenia, bipolar, any kind of psychosis but we show people as this violent billon. 30:43 Even though people that have some of these more severe diagnoses, they are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of a crime rather than perpetrators. And unfortunately, when there is any type of violence, it’s usually self inflicted. 31:00 So higher rates of risky behaviors and even self harm and suicidality yet we don’t see this. We really see depictions of violence that are tied to mental instability. 31:16 And, so, the people that are watching it, that aren’t associated with the symptoms or experiences, they are just being given this, basically, this idea that this is something to be feared and something to separate yourself from. 31:34 So, two recent examples are the Movie split, which I think was 2017. This movie is about somebody who has dissociative identity disorder. This was previously called Multiple Personality Disorder. So it is a very uncommon but highly sensationalized diagnoses. 31:57 It’s a very, very severe trauma response, Usually somebody who has experienced repeated and brother, violent, and sexual, and physical child abuse is actually something that your brain does. 32:13 As amazing as our brains are, kind of gives people, sometimes another identity, so that when they are in any kind of fight or flight scared mode, that part of the brain kind of shuts off. And another one takes over, just for self preservation. 32:31 But as you can see on the movie, excuse me, poster this character has a few different identities, and the largest one is an actual monster. 32:44 So this person, this character, spends the entire movie hunting down and murdering people and actually becomes a monster at the end and fleas. 32:56 So he hurts people that are kind to him. He’s hurting unsuspecting people who are unanswered unassociated, and he’s hurting people that he knows and loves. So if you are somebody, one of the rare people that has the ID and you’re seeing a depiction like this, can be really even harmful for your own perception and for your own depiction, like you’re watching a screen where somebody who is, like, you, is a monster. It’s just, you know, I know it’s a really interesting concept, and I have seen this movie, and I was interested, and then at the end, it really lost me. Because I was like, that’s not what it’s like for somebody who has this. And then there’s also the joker. If anyone has seen this specific iteration, it’s kind of an origin story. 33:44 But even if you haven’t, I’m sure everybody is familiar with the joker in the Batman universe and he’s supposed to be this crazy, intelligent, unstable, violent, and villain. 33:56 So, the movie really starts off with him, being failed by the mental health system. 34:01 There’s not enough funding and resources for him to continue with his medication and therapy and he goes through this movie. 34:09 With people treating him badly, ostracizing him and ridiculing. Bullying, what have you. 34:18 And then it really ends with him in a position of revenge where the whole world, mistreated, him, and through him to the judges of society. And that he is, has this revenge, where he can get, you know, some kind of vindication against people in the street at him, and that ends with a lot of violence and disruption towards just kind of everyday people. The scary part of that movie for me was the, I think, the story that was telling, because in the end of the movie there sorry, spoiler alert. 34:59 But there are a lot of followers that he ends up getting, So, you know, this also tells a bad story to the audience for two reasons. one, that somebody who is treated a certain way, you know, has been bullied or pushed aside is going to react violently. 35:19 And to that, this is something to be idolized or repeated or copied chatted in any way. 35:31 And then just another common depiction is somebody being shown as a punchline. 35:37 So I took a screengrab from an interview that David Letterman had with actress Lindsay Lohan a few years ago, where she’s on to promote a new movie or new project that she’s working on. And he just spends the entire interview, kind of berating her about her latest stint in rehab. And you know, if how often, she’s been there, if it’s even kind of work. And you can see her getting more and more uncomfortable and kinda disgusted with the way that everyone keeps laughing at her when she did not want to talk about her own struggles with addiction and relaxing. And it’s just, you know, now watching it in 20 21, it feels a little bit different but unfortunately this wasn’t that long ago. And things like this we have really normalized. 36:29 But depictions of punchlines can really reduce people to again that one quality and this quality being levity. 36:38 Or, you know, some kind of just joke to kinda speed things along and make us say, Oh, thank God! I’m not like that. 36:48 So, it increases separation and it’s also low hanging fruit. There’s nothing inherently intelligent about laughing at somebody for something incredibly painful and confusing in their lives. 37:01 There are a lot of ways that mental health and addiction can can be laughed at, but not at the expense of somebody and what they’ve experienced. There are really intelligent ways to include that as part of our dialog and normalizing it, and this example just, isn’t it? 37:20 And again, it does not showcase the plethora of emotions that are associated with any kind of struggle, especially as an addiction. 37:32 Then, laughing at versus laughing with the character or the person. No. Laughing at somebody about some failure, perceived failure that they had, versus allowing them in on a joke, or allowing them to even control the narrative. 37:49 It’s just really can be quite disheartening. 37:53 And these are just a few other examples of how we, how we do this. 37:57 You know, when Britney Spears had an emotional episode few decades, 15 years ago, I’d say, you know, again, this was used as something to laugh at, to poke fun at, and even really just to gawk, and again, thanks. 38:17 Thank God. I’m separated. and this, this is not me, and I don’t have anything to do with this. 38:23 And I’m going to show a quick video but I am not actually going to play the audio because I find the audio so obnoxious and necessary for the point that I am making. 38:36 So, this clip is from a movie called Duisburg alone. So, it is again, that low hanging fruit kind of comedy. 38:46 But the Depiction here is somebody who has Tourette syndrome, and more specifically, one symptom of the …, which is ticks, that are unable to be controlled. That can either be verbal or, you know, physical. 39:02 But so it’s really just showing her, using expletives, the entire time, constantly saying things that are not appropriate, and that are being used to really laugh. 39:15 And again, I just, it’s kind of uncomfortable to watch with the audio. It really did not age well from when this movie came out. 39:24 But still, like, you can even, it doesn’t showcase the reality of what Amy poehler’s character really would be experiencing. There’s a lot of confusion. There’s some, evident disdain, and disapproval. But there’s just a general lack of understanding, And I think this is where that fear kind of comes back into play. 39:48 So I don’t need to show the entire clip for this to be, for this point, to be brought home, but I just then he left. He later brings her to a baseball game, because he thinks that’s where she’s gonna fit in with all of the other fans who are screaming curses at the teams and are really engaged and enthusiastic. So the clip and with everybody praising her and being, you know, positively associated with her and her enthusiasm but just I think it’s just a really tacky way of really depicting this. 40:30 So again, the cobra Lala it really is the most common depictions, so that is what, unfortunately, a lot of these diagnoses are. 40:40 And you know, often Tourette’s syndrome is not in itself a mental health condition. But due to a lot of these themes, of shame, fear, unable to feel like you’re comfortable in your own skin. And especially with those around you, it can really be co-occurring with many diagnoses, especially anxiety, depression, and ADHD. 41:09 And again, a lot of these aspects are incredibly stigmatized, They’re ostracized, And I think when even when we hear Tourette syndrome in the greater media, it’s often looked at as something negative and something to laugh at. 41:25 Does not show how distressing this can be for somebody who is experiencing any symptom truly. 41:31 No, it doesn’t give the whole story and it often leaves out the human component of it just focusing on whatever symptom. 41:42 And culturally, I just want to spend some time talking about different stories and perspectives. Unfortunately, I had a really difficult time trying to find stories of any different kind of person. 41:58 So really they were a lot of depictions of the same kind of person. 42:04 So they were lacking different stories from different cultures and races. People with disabilities or just different sexual orientations or gender identities. 42:17 And I found that unfortunate because how to, despite how for some of these examples where they still showcase mental health and mental illness as kind of one sided, and that there really is only one kind of person that does struggle with this. 42:35 So, relatively, you know, attractive, young, white people, and we know that this is kind of just another layer of stigma upon what we already experience as a whole. 42:49 We know that mental health and addiction are looked at very differently depending on what culture you are a member of, or what group you kind of associate with. And we know that people of color are less likely to access treatment. 43:07 So, without good representation, that is showcasing that it is normal, and that it actually happens, that people do have diagnoses and conditions and symptoms that they could benefit from and live could benefit from treatment and live with every day. 43:27 Unfortunately, stories that haven’t been told as often, that are really becoming told more recently. We also know that people of color are less likely to access treatment, and when they do access treatment, it’s not often as culturally competent or as high quality or even as accessible. 43:49 We also know, in our LGBTQ communities, there is more mental health diagnoses and more addiction than your or non LGBT neighbors. And that is not specifically because of being associated or being a part of the LGBTQ community, but it’s a lot of those external stigma. As, you know, a lot, unfortunately, there’s still a lot of bullying. 44:16 Often, there’s still that rejection from family and loved ones, and there’s still systemic issues of equality with both of these populations. 44:28 So why is this dangerous? Because some of these negative depictions can really be an introduction to the topic of mental health, I would say especially our younger populations that have smart phones in their hands and can access anything under the Sun, good or bad. 44:48 So a lot of these dramatize depictions they help us really separate And it’s easier to be misinformed. 44:57 And really, just, it’s easier to be Apathetic and not accepting. Because a lot of these stories make it so difficult to relate to those characters, that it’s just easy to kind of push them aside. 45:12 So we’re really normalizing these messages by continuously showcasing people as dangerous, violent, and punchlines. 45:24 And this is dangerous, I would say, on an interpersonal level, because it really promotes or substantiates, fear, ridicule and avoidance. 45:36 It justifies how we can think about our neighbors and wanting to avoid people because of that unwanted association or fear of the unknown, or just honestly, pure lack of understanding. 45:56 And I would say from a personal or a self stigma perspective, this is really dangerous because it can reduce self-esteem, really consuming depictions that are negative and one-sided can really make people feel like there’s something wrong with them or anything that they relate to about that character. 46:19 And that, then, the message that they’re being given, is that something’s wrong with them, and they really should keep quiet about it, or kinda just stuff it down. 46:31 This can affect relationships, because if you are not accepting of your own experiences, and the way that your brain works, and how you function, it’s going to be very difficult to connect to others, and to be able to have any type of sustainable, or meaningful support system. 46:52 So whether that’s family, friends, what, what it’s difficult to to maintain them, and also it can reduce help seeking. Because if there’s only one kind of story that’s being told and it’s somebody who is sick and is kind of depicted as they always will be sick. This really reduces the idea that people can recover, or can learn to cope, or increase their happiness, and their quality of life. 47:24 And I just really, I know we’re beginning to wind down, but I wanna really touch upon romanticizing mental illness, and which is, I think, the other end of the spectrum of awareness from stigma. 47:38 There is a …, where there’s this idea that mental illness or any kind of addiction is attractive in any way. 47:50 I want to say that this has been really only in the past couple of years, and I believe it to be, or past decade, I’ll say, with the rise and accessibility of social media, And I’ll say it’s with younger audiences. Probably primarily, but I don’t think that this is just related to one age group. I think we just see it there because there’s such a high population of the younger populations that access social media. 48:19 So this can look like believing that mental illness makes you cool or edgy, or some kind somehow, kind of with the and a beautifully tragic esthetic, or that you’re, you’re better than society or those people. Anyone. 48:38 That’s mistreated you or or made you feel any sort of way, which is, which was my perception of the joker might be. 48:48 And lastly, there’s a glorification. 48:51 So, of substance use, of self harm and for risky behaviors, not taking care of yourself and, you know, thinking that this makes you somehow more special or unique than other people. 49:12 And I do want to show a short clip. 49:17 Just a few moments just showing some of these more common examples. 49:26 And he’s a little bit of a fast talker, so I’m gonna. 49:30 Oops, I’m going to slow him down a little bit. 49:38 Yes. 49:42 OK. 49:52 Yeah. 49:58 OK. 50:01 No, I will skip the video for now. But as we’re running out of it a little bit of time, but really he just reflects on some more recent depictions of Romanticizing mental health by there’s a lot of, you know, names. There’s music and there are even stories that are being told as if mental illness is something to be attained. 50:27 Or that’s something that makes you more special or cool, or you can kind of blame any mistake or any action on the fact that you have a mental illness. And some examples in movies and music are I would say the Wolf of Wall Street, which really glorifies substance use and shows Leonardo DiCaprio’s character as somebody who is a role model or or something that, some qualities that you would want to achieve. A being, breccia, having access to substance use and drugs, alcohol to a point where he gets an a lot of trouble but he’s still seen as this very cool comedic man who’s in control of his money and his life. 51:15 There’s also been a relatively recent song that came out, called, Sweet, but Psycho. And it just depicts the singer in a straight jacket and a padded room. And for some reason, that this is seen as being **** or being attractive in some way that she’s utilizing this as a sexual advance. 51:41 So, some of these personal impacts of just consuming some of these negative stories is, it can affect our own self-esteem and our own self perception. It can affect our sleep. 51:53 No, too much consumption of anything can affect our attention span and our patients. 51:59 Our mood you know, if you consume a lot of things that are negative in nature subliminally it is affecting our mood and also you know how we see other people and our relationships with others. 52:12 And I just want to end on a few depictions that. Do get it right. I don’t want to do many spoilers because I do want to promote some of these stories, But moonlight is a beautiful movie that really reflects on the mental health experience of a young, black boy as he goes through childhood adolescence. And his young adulthood? 52:31 And I just think it was done really Responsibly and shows a really accurate depiction of trauma, child abuse, and the experiences that are really focused on the views of a black man and how this can look very different than how we typically see mental health being portrayed in the media. 52:57 And shameless is a television show with a lot of its own flaws, but how they depict the one son, Ian, who suffers with bipolar disorder, that was not managed as he navigates his home life. Now his relationships with men, as he does come out as homosexual and just, I think the depiction can be really gritty and dark. But it is realistic, and it’s really person centered. They show many other aspects of his character, versus just the diagnosis, and the symptoms, and experiences that he gets into. 53:39 So, I want to end on how the media is changing, and how they’re getting it right. 53:45 So, we are really beginning to see that person, the person first, language being utilized. So, instead of calling people really derogatory words, we’re starting to reflect on a person with a diagnosis or a person with a struggle. 54:01 Rather just than referring to a person by, you know, their symptoms or other kind of nickname that really reflects the pain and the negativity that they experience. 54:13 We’re also starting to see more diverse perspectives, and including a lot of personal perspectives from people who are now in these roles, where they can talk about their own story, or involve their own experiences. 54:29 And lastly, we’re just starting to see characters, and celebrities, and social media, that shows people who are multi dimensional, and this is just one aspect of who they are as a person. And there’s much more to people with mental health and addiction diagnoses than just the negative, but these are things that they cope with, and, you know, this is really a normal thing that’s embedded every day in our lives. So I think so important that we showcase and reflect on depictions that show people as just normal people. 55:05 So, I know I went a little bit over, but thank you so much. I really appreciate the opportunity to present. 55:12 And I don’t know how to stop sharing my screen. 55:18 Did that work? 55:20 Awesome. 55:22 So, I want to say thank you for the time and effort that you’ve put into this. We have a couple of questions here. But anybody looking to ask a question, please type in your question box, and click send, and we’ll be happy to ask the question. 55:43 So, my first question is, how can you protect your own mental health from the negative effects of overconsuming media? 55:53 Well, I think that’s really important because I think everything really needs to be in moderation. So even if you’re seeing a lot of things that you don’t see as harmful or negative, I think moderation is always key. It’s important for us to take a step back and look at things that are actually happening in our own reality. 56:13 So I would say definitely have to have a time limit, but also connecting to things that you enjoy spending time with your family and friends and even discussing some of the things that you’re intaking with other people. 56:30 Because I think that can help kinda break up what you’ve experienced versus kind of what’s happening in reality and it’s always important to, I think, unplug. 56:42 What can we do personally to reduce the stigma and harmful depictions of mental health and addiction that we see? 56:53 I think it’s first thing that we can do is just try to recognize if we are seeing something that we find stigmatizing or contributing to negative stereotypes, Sometimes, they’re hard to avoid and sometimes they’re built into, I’d say, our favorite stories. 57:12 But, know, and we can’t necessarily avoid the whole world or avoid something that, you know, we don’t think is 100% ethical. 57:21 You know, if we don’t have the opportunity, but I think we can do, is we can definitely talk about it. We can avoid things that we think are more harm than good, and that don’t really contribute, or that don’t showcase even neutral or accurate stories. And I think we just have to try to keep it in mind. Talking about things is always really important, and being able to have those conversations, and separate the stigma from the reality. 57:55 So um, you were talking about, you’re talking about copper lilia earlier, when you shared this big. Hello. 58:09 And that’s something that this community knows a lot about as fars. 58:18 That is what’s depicted in the media. 58:22 We have where we currently have a campaign out there, if nobody has seen it, where some of our youth have put up PSAs, that the mightiest is not an excuse for your bad behavior. So, if anybody hasn’t Siemer, check out our YouTube page, That would be great. 58:51 The Euro, we have, um, spotlight or news program, happening at 7 0 PM, on October 19. 59:00 That is also going to be doing that. In fact, that slide is up on the screen right now. 59:07 So, you might want to have your your kids with T S, you know, listening and we’ll have one of the youth who did her name is Paige who did a PSA. We’ll be doing that. But … is the biggest thing that is grabbed by the media. 59:28 Considering if it’s one, or even if it’s one in two hundred people, that you may have to, yes, only 5% of that group have comparable earlier. 59:41 So, know, it’s just because it’s, it’s sensational that they pick it up and cockerel area, or the utterance of inappropriate, or inappropriate fraser’s. 59:57 So, if anybody doesn’t know that, my next question is, how do I recognize whether I’m consuming a positive or negative depiction of mental health in the media? 1:00:12 Well, I think that can be difficult sometimes, because, while there are a lot of positive experiences of mental health, there’s also ones that are accurate and neutral that are still negative. 1:00:29 So, I think it’s just important to see how a person is being treated or being portrayed, and whether they do really seem to be that one sighted person or if there’s a whole slew of character development and background to that person. 1:00:50 No, depending however they’re acting or or what have you, I think it’s still it’s really important to recognize how they’re being treated. And if, you know, they’re really being kind of pigeonholed into one quality or one symptom. 1:01:06 And if all the other characters are multi-faceted and deep, And this one character is just something that exists almost just to be that thing that moves the plod along, I think that’s the most obvious. 1:01:21 But, really has to do with, I think, how, in context and in perspective, at the other characters, just, if you couldn’t tell, sometimes, like the role that their being put into, and if it is multi-faceted, or if it’s just that one quality. 1:01:42 Great. Thank you again for all your time and this wonderful information. I’d like to thank everyone for joining our webinar on mental health in media. It’s stigma and stereotypes. There will be an exit survey as you leave the webinar. The webinar blog is open now and available for the next seven days for any questions you might have, but posts. That website is WWW dot N J C two S dot org and also an archived recording of tonight’s webinar will be posted to our website. This ends tonight’s webinar webinar. Thank you very much for your presentation, and Thank you, everyone, for attending tonight.


  1. JSpringer says:

    “How can you tell the difference between a positive or negative depiction of mental health in the media?”:

    • M.Isbitski says:

      Sometimes, it is difficult to tell the difference between a truthful and negative depiction of mental health in the media. Some stories depict the reality of mental health and substance use disorders, but it can be difficult to determine what is true to life and what is a stigmatizing inaccuracy. Some ways to evaluate if you viewing a truly neutral depiction are is the character, person portrayed:
      1. Is not shown only as a punchline or butt of the joke, i.e. laughing at a harmful or negative symptom one may experience, or as something simply for the sake of entertainment. If they exist only to move the plot along or someone to gawk at, fear, or ridicule, or , it is more than likely a negative or stereotypical depiction.
      2. Is multi-faceted, not simply shown as a walking talking symptom or problem, but a real person with both successes and struggles. People with mental health and substance use disorders have full lives, with achievements, goals, interests, loved ones, and their own purpose.
      3. Is not shown as a violent or unstable villain, simply due to mental illness. Their pain and perspective is portrayed in a way that is real and human, with empathy and understanding. Statistically, people with more severe conditions are more likely to hurt themselves than others.