Saturday, February 5, 2011
Media and Mental Health
An article in The Los Angeles Times poignantly points out that the association between violence and mental illness is alive and well in the public mind. The article goes on to say that many of US recognize this fact, find it unfair, and yet still this stigma persists.
The discussion turns toward the media and whether or not blame should truly be placed on journalists for their focus on the negatives and the clinical aspects rather than addressing the stigma and solutions to the mishandling of the mentally ill that often leads to violent endings.
The reporter seemed upset at the idea that the media is not looking for answers and solutions to this growing social concern and stigma, although this implication is not completed unfounded. Many new programs and documentaries available to the public are often more entertainment oriented rather than informative, like Intervention or Hoarders. This new exploitative attitude coupled by continuous emphasis of violence and mental illness in the news has helped reinforce a negative stigma of mental illness.
This being said, because of the backlash to these negative portrayals in the media, journalists have recently tried to turn away from the sensationalizing of mental health disorders and have moved towards more socially responsible reporting by searching for solutions. If the media continues down this new road, the mental health stigma may slowly start to be diminished and will help encourage treatment without shame for those who need it.