Mental illness portrayed in media

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Mental illnesses, also known as neurobiological disorders, are sometimes portrayed poorly in terms of factual accuracy. In the media, such as movies, television shows, books, magazines, and news, those with mental illnesses are sometimes shown to be "crazy". These "crazy" people are often stereotypically violent and unpredictable, unlike how many of those with mental illnesses truly are. Due to these inaccurate portrayals of people with mental illnesses, some people believe that those with mental illnesses should be shunned away from society, locked away in mental institutions, heavily medicated, or a combination of the three. However, not only are those with these disorders able to function normally in society, but they can also lead highly successful jobs and careers, as well as make important contribution to society.[1]


In 2012, India Knight wrote a column in London's The Sunday Times about depression. Fellow columnist, Alastair Campbell of The Huffington Post was ashamed to read her article mentioning how "'everybody gets depressed'" and also saying "there is no stigma in depression".

In his article, Campbell discusses the wrongfulness in her word choice. By saying everyone gets depressed is showing that she is a part of that world that either does not accept depression is a disease or they do not believe it is a disease.

Knight's article is proof that there is still a stigma to depression. Campbell goes on to explain how even in the medical profession, people are afraid to even mention to their employers that they have it simply because they would not fully understand like they would understand a physical illness.

Ending his article, Campbell mentions the fight to bring awareness and understanding to mental illness and describing Knight's article as, "unhelpful, potentially damaging and certainly showed we still have quite a way to go."[2]


  • Sideways gives an accurate depiction of depression. One of the movie's main characters, Miles Raymond, is shown to exhibit several signs of depression, some of which include using substances (alcohol) in an attempt to cope with the failures and losses in his life, not having hope for his future, and having a consistently depressed mood.[3]
  • Julien Donkey Boy gives an accurate depiction of schizophrenia. The movie features a man named Julien who exhibits several signs of schizophrenia. One of said signs includes having conversations with people who, in reality, are not actually there.[4]


The following list of statistics was obtained from studies done in the United Kingdom.[5]

  • Between the 1980s and 2000s the rate of mental illnesses in children doubled.
  • 1 in 10 people between the ages of 5 and 16 suffer from some form of diagnosable mental illness.
  • Between 1 in 12 and 1 in 15 children are estimated to purposely self-harm.
  • Over the past decade the number of young persons hospitalized due to self-inflicted injuries has risen 68%.
  • Over 50% of adults with some form of mental illness were diagnosed as a child, and less than half of these people were treated properly at the time.
  • Nearly 80,000 minors suffer from severe depression; over 8,000 of them are under the age of 10.
  • 72% of kids have some type of emotional or behavioral problem.
  • 95% of minors who are imprisoned have at least one mental disorder; many of them are suffering with more than one.
  • The number of people between the ages of 15 and 16 with depression nearly doubled between the 1980s and 2000s.
  • The proportion of minors with conduct disorder who were between the ages of 15 and 16 more than doubled between the years of 1974 and 1999.
  • 9.6% of people aged between 5 and 16 years have at least one form of mental illness.
  • 3.3% of those between the ages of 5 and 16 have some type of anxiety disorder.
  • 1.5% of those aged between 5 and 16 years have a severe form of ADHD.
  • 0.9% of all people aged between 5 and 16 years have a form of severe depression.


  1. ^ "Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology". Retrieved 2014-03-04. 
  2. ^ "Media Portrayal of Depression: We've Still Got a Long Way to Go | Alastair Campbell". Retrieved 2014-03-04. 
  3. ^ "NIMH · Depression". Retrieved 2014-03-04. 
  4. ^ "NIMH · Schizophrenia". 2013-08-06. Retrieved 2014-03-04. 
  5. ^ "Mental Health Statistics - Young People Statistics". YoungMinds. Retrieved 2014-03-04.