Mental Health in Popular Culture
Considering mental illness affects a great amount of individuals, it is no surprise that mental illness is frequently featured in main stream and entertainment media.
It appears across all various multi-media outputs including movies, television shows, books, and music. But, mental health portrayals in entertainment are often specifically created solely for the purpose of entertainment.
“The worst stereotypes come out in such depictions: mentally ill individuals as incompetent, dangerous, slovenly, undeserving, the portrayals serve to distance 'them' from the rest of 'us.'”
-Stephen Hinshaw, professor of psychology at the University of California–Berkeley
Regardless of the representations are accurate or inaccurate, they start a much needed conversation about mental health.
Inaccurate Portrayal: Split (2016)
The film split inaccurately represents individuals with dissociative identity disorder by portraying them as violent and frightening, adding to further shaming of those suffering with the illness.
Innacurate portrayal: Halloween (1978)
Although the movie never specifically mentions or discusses Myer's mental illness, the audience is led to believe that he has some type of psychosis.
Psychopathy and psychosis are a real disorder, but according to the American Psychological Association (2014), only about 3.5% of individuals are diagnosed with psychosis. These individuals count for a very small portion of the population. You're chances of encountering a psychopathic person on a killing spree are almost zero to none.
Inaccurate portrayal: Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
This presents the public with in inaccurate representation of treatment of mental illness. It is not by learning to tango, but rather an intense and difficult lifestyle change filled with therapy and medications for those diagnosed to receive some type of relief. In fact, most mental illness do not have a "cure" at all.
Accurate Portrayal: A Beautiful Mind (2001)
At the same time of viewing an accurate portrayal of his paranoid schizophrenia, you get a sense of humanization which makes it easier to sympathize with Nash. Despite his illness, he is extremely intelligent giving him more humanistic qualities.
Accurate Portrayal: To The Bone (2017)
The film, To the Bone, is an American drama staring Lily Collins as a girl, Elen suffering from anorexia. The movie, that appeared on Netflix, accurately portrays the symptoms and experiences unique to those suffering with anorexia.
On top of the accurate portrayal of Elen's symptoms such as excessively counting calories, dressing in baggy clothing, and her preoccupation with losing weight, the film includes Elen's treatment process. She enters a home with others suffering from eating disorders. This home is filled with various amounts of individuals ranging from males to even young children. This covers all representations of people with anorexia. Mental illness does not discriminate!
Ellen's journey through treatment provides a sincere and accurate portrayal providing hope to those suffering.