Hi! I'm Brooke Alexander and you're watching Spotlight on Bipolar. On this episode, we're taking a look at bipolar disorder in the media.
Over the years, mental illnesses have been front and center, on the stage and the printed page in Shakespearian dramas, on Broadway, in Bestselling novels and beyond.
A handful of movies and TV shows have also been praised for their accurate depictions of characters with bipolar disorder.
But even as pop culture has exposed people to the reality of mental illness, there's a flip side to the spotlight.
According to a recent University of Indiana study compared to 1950, twice as many subjects feared acts of violence when interacting with people who have a mental health disorder.
Dr. Otto Wahl of the Graduate Institute of Professional Psychology at the University of Hartford claims recurring depictions of crazed killers
and escapes mental patience in movies perpetuate these fears.
When the crazed killer is the main image of mental illness on television and movies and in newspapers,
that's the impression that the general public gets about what constitutes mental illness.
In reality however, 80% to 90% of people with mental illnesses never commit violent acts.
When people come to the conclusion that people with mental illnesses are generally violent and dangerous, it leads them to avoid and reject those individuals.
It leads them to discriminate against those individuals.
News organizations have walked a fine line trying to balance entertainment and education in reporting on BP and related conditions.
This was perhaps most apparent in coverage of Britney Spears over the last few years.
The exploitation of Spears in a moment of vulnerability brought up ethical questions for many journalists.
One writer even went as far as to end her relationship with the national magazine.
To the writer's colleagues however, the real injustice was not covering the story. Her managing editor said the press had a duty to report on Spears until the pop star sought help.
To be sure, many media and entertainment professionals are now making an effort to tell both sides of the story.
The Mental Health Media Partnership, established in 2003, now provides counseling to media organizations and TV shows like Desperate Housewives and Law & Order.
Their aim is to promote accuracy and understanding in their depictions of mental health issues. Actor Joe Pantoliano has also founded an organization called No Kidding, Me Too.
It's an effort for entertainment professionals to team up against the stigma of mental health disorders.
There are also things that you and I can do individually to try to improve the depiction of mental illnesses. In particular, we can speak up about our concerns.
If you need help finding your voice, check out the National Alliance of Mental Illness' web site at www.nami.org. That's it for this episode of Spotlight on Bipolar.
For more tips and information on bipolar disorder, stay tuned to BPTV right here on WebMD.