1st. article in our 5 week series on Hollywood & Mental Health
Let’s face it. Hollywood gets a bad rap when it comes to Mental Health concerns in America. This article will spotlight how Hollywood is playing a significant role in changing the stigma associated with mental illness and look into how these stigmas get manifested in society.
The unemployment rate for people with mental illness ranges from 70 to 90 percent. According to a government study, in 2010 about 40 percent of the 11.4 million adults with serious mental illness went untreated. Only one out of five children with diagnosable psychiatric disorders receives any treatment at all. The top two reasons were inability to afford mental care and the stigma of admitting psychiatric illness and seeking help.
Where Does Stigma Derive From?
According to an article Stigma of Mental Illness Robs Children of Treatment by Gregory K. Fritz he states, “Mental illness is arguably the most stigmatized condition in our country today.”
Stigma derives from the ancient Greek practice of burning or cutting the body to visibly mark a person deemed to be objectionable in some way. The roots of stigma are in human fear or ignorance. Our society uses pejorative labels (“crazy,” “retard,” “psycho”) that are associated with stereotypes (for example, that mental illness leads to incompetence, violence, unpredictability or deviance).
Embracing stereotypes is the precursor to prejudice against the mentally ill, the behavioral manifestations of which are seen in societal discrimination: isolation or extrusion of children with psychiatric disorders, employment or educational discrimination, etc. “Self stigma” refers to an individuals’ internalization of societal beliefs and prejudices — resulting in lower self-esteem, limited aspirations, secrecy, anxiety and treatment avoidance.
Hollywood called to Help
This past June, President Obama held a White House summit, with Vice President Joe Biden, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. The goal of the summit was to start a national conversation about mental health, removing any stigma around it so afflicted people will feel free to seek help. They were joined by two entertainment industry leaders with personal connections to mental health issues: Glenn Close and the president of the National Association of Broadcasters, Gordon Smith.
“Close, who co-founded the nonprofit awareness group Bring Change 2 Mind, has said she first became aware of mental health problems when she starred in Fatal Attraction in 1987. Her sister Jessie grew up with severe bouts of depression and tried to commit suicide several times before being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Her nephew Calen has also been diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder.
Smith, a former U.S. Senator from Oregon, wrote about his son’s suicide at age 22 in his 2006 book, Remembering Garrett: One Family’s Battle With A Child’s Depression. While in the Senate, Smith also helped get passed the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act to help fight the problem of youth suicide.”
Earlier this month the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) held an event on a studio lot in California for scriptwriters, producers, directors, performers and execs. Along with panels of experts, the producers, studios and networks were offered a toolkit and resources in both English and Spanish – including story ideas – provided by TEAM Up (Tools for Entertainment and Media).
According to Brian Dyak, the EIC’s president and ceo,
“Inaccurate portrayals of individuals living with mental illness can fuel misconceptions that could lead to subsequent discrimination and deter individuals from seeking help for mental health challenges.”
Do you think Hollywood could help change the stigmas often associated with mental illness?