154mc – Under-represented within the Media


When given the task to look at Under- Represented Groups within the media I thought about what this might mean so a starting point for me was to define what was meant by Under-represented Groups. The dictionary gives the following definition:

‘Definition of under-represent

verb

 

provide with insufficient or inadequate representation : women are under-represented at high levels.’
This made me consider just what groups of people within society may be inadequately represented by the media ( media being film,TV, Tabloids etc) and one group that immediately came to mind was those with Mental Health Illnesses.
One in four of us will be afflicted with a mental health issue during the course of our lifetime. The likelihood is that you know someone with a mental health illness, whether you are aware of it or not. Indeed you may yourself be personally affected.  Yet despite this, there is still a stigma that lies around being open about it. I wanted to find out just how Mental Health is portrayed within society that makes people have misconceptions about it.
Looking at a report that was carried out on behalf of Mind.org, YouGov surveyed 2000 members of the public, asking them about their attitudes and opinions to film and Mental Health.  Half of the respondents said that they had seen violent mentally ill people in films and 29% reported to reading about violent crime committed by mentally ill people in newspapers. Headlines such as “Mad”, “Mental” and “scitzo” all adding to this negative reinforcement. These sensationalist headlines contradict the truth of people suffering Mental Health illnesses, indeed such people are more likely to be a danger to themselves than others. With 90% of people who commit suicide suffering from mental distress, whereas 95% of violent murders are committed by people who are not suffering a mental health illness.
Timetochange.org cites research that was carried out on the portrayal of mental health issues with in soaps and TV. Words used within these shows to describe someone who was afflicted were “crackpot”, “a sad little psycho”, “basket case” , “where did you get her from?”, “Care in the Community?” and “he was looney tunes”. All of which reinforce the belief that people who have a mental health illness are to be feared or segregated within society.
I myself have first hand experience of mental health issues, suffering postnatal depression following the birth of my 3rd child and from watching my husband battle with depressive episodes for years. None of the above terms such as basket case or looney tunes could be used to describe my husband, in fact you would not know if you met him that he had a mental health illness. He is intelligent , articulate , a wonderful father  and husband who just happens to suffer from depression. It is part of who he is, yet he does not let it define him.
I have put together a small montage of photographs that I feel represent the man my husband is:
For further reading about Mental Health Issues please take a look at these sites :
Media Advice on Mental Health Portrayal – http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/media-advice
SAMARITANS – http://www.samaritans.org/   
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