On Thursday March 16th, our guest speaker David shared with us his presentation “ Mental Health Through the Lens of the Mass Media “
David, began by sharing with us a few definitions. Contrary to some beliefs, people with mental illness are more often to be victims of violence, rather than the perpetrators. He shared that mass media can be a powerful influence, and frequently gets things wrong.
So, what does affect our understanding of reality? Our upbringing, TV violence, schools, churches we attend, government, our own experiences, and yes mass media. Mass media tends to sensationalize to make things seem more dramatic. Mass media can also stigmatize us into believing a certain way.
David also shared with us some thoughts on self-stigma. Social stigma, or the beliefs or stereotypes that are reflected in society, may lead to self-stigma. Self-stigma may occur if someone internalizes public or social stigma that they may encounter. Self-stigma can also refer to the negative attitudes, including internal shame, that some with mental health challenges may have about their condition.
Often the mass media seems to have distorted images of people with mental illness. Men are over represented as having serious mental disorders.
Sometimes male psychiatrists are portrayed as lustful weird jesters, and female psychiatrists are often portrayed as persons with emotions all bottled up. Most of us know that these distorted images are not a true reality, as there are definitely some amazing therapists and doctors out there.
David did share with us some film clips of various movies that reflect their view of mental illness. One movie that he shared a clip of “ Patch Adams” , seems that maybe it had a more positive outlook towards mental health than some others.
Since there tend to be so many negative images out there when portraying mental illness, it’s best to use your own good judgment when viewing the mass media. I always try to use good self-care, and will make an added extra effort to avoid these negative images in my life.
I really did enjoy David’s presentation, and look forward to when we hear from him again!