Why is the media so harmful towards the depiction of mental health? What can we do ourselves to help?
Media representation of mental illnesses is bullshit.
It’s not just about the tear stained pillows, crying while eating out of an ice cream tub, or crying in the shower. No one shows the days or weeks of laying down in bed, wishing the day would end as quickly as it started. No one shows the messy rooms that have weeks old food and cups that sit there to rot because the time is spent wishing it would all stop. Brushing your teeth and showering are all things that seem like a chore. These mundane tasks become chores.
The manic episodes of scratching at your skin and acting on impulse will never be shown. You never see how quickly you start to push yourself away from everything. The isolation is deafening. The flashbacks of everything that went wrong plays over and over while you try so hard to remember the better parts of your past.
Days get longer.
Nights get shorter.
People constantly mourn to the loss of suicide, but they ignore/demonize the events leading up to it. We have constantly seen awful treatment towards depressive episodes.
We ignore the signs and symptoms since they're all ignored, deemed as laziness:
...lack of hygiene, cluttered rooms, not being able to get out of bed in the morning, being pessimistic, creating safe spaces in harmful areas, and even acting like everything is okay and coming home to cry....
It's not the same for everyone either. Others spend their days drowning themselves in work to distract them from their problems. The teens who spend their time working 40+ hours a week to get away from their problems. There are others who spend time in the gym to work out their body dysmorphia and insecurities. There are many others who take 5 minutes to break down in the school bathroom before heading to a class where they bury their head in the spine of a book.
One thing is for certain, we all wake up with the same goal. Everyday is a battle, not in a cliché, teen novel type of way.
A mental battle that is truly the hardest thing to fight. There will be days where sadness is overcome by anger. Sometimes, there will be days or weeks filled with complete numbness. You feel nothing. And, after a while you'll finally wish to feel something once again.
Going back to media representation, it is common to see the misrepresentation of mental health in Hollywood. From movies like the Joker to Split.
The Joker is a movie that touches on the diagnosis of psychopathy and narcissism, but it portrays both of these mental illnesses in a violent light.
Split refers to dissociative identity disorder (DID), a mental disorder where a person has two or more distinct personalities. The thoughts, actions, and behaviors of each personality may be completely different. Trauma often causes this condition, particularly during childhood. This is another movie that also demonizes and demonstrates this mental illness towards violence. Both, as well as many more movies, convey the message that these people with disorders need to be “fixed” or left alone at all costs.
The stigma around mental illness causes a lot of people to deny treatment and help. Even parents are ashamed to have their children on medication for mental health reasons because they don’t want to seem like a “bad parent.” Media has left many people to ignore their mental well-being just to seem healthy. We also become apathetic towards people showing symptoms.
We need to start speaking out and reaching out to our friends. Checking in on friends and family is a great way to start. I hate to see action being done after a tragedy. We need to stop waiting for something to happen to check in on your loved ones. Seeing people mourn and coming to a realization that checking up on someone is something that needs to be done is almost heartbreaking. We shouldn’t have to wait to look after one another when something bad happens.
Here are some hotlines if you feel unwell, depressed, and/or need someone to talk to:
FOR THE US
- 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24-hour crisis center
- Text MHA to 74174
- SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline, 1-877-SAMHSA7 (1-877-726-4727)
Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST.
- Veterans Crisis Line
- Disaster Distress Helpline
- Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org for a reply within 24 hours
- Text "SHOUT" to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text "YM" if you're under 19
If you're under 19, you can also call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline. The number will not appear on your phone bill.
- 111 will tell you the right place to get help if you need to see someone.