Media Portrayal of Mental Illness in America

4048 Words Oct 30th, 2002 17 Pages
Media Portrayal of Mental Illness in America
The media in American society has a major influential impact on the minds and beliefs of millions of people. Whether through the news, television shows, or film, the media acts as a huge database for knowledge and instruction. It is both an auditory and visual database that can press images and ideas into people's minds. Even if the individual has no prior exposure or knowledge to something, the media can project into people's minds and leave a lasting impression. Though obviously people are aware of what they are listening to or watching, thoughts and assumptions can drift into their minds without even realizing it. These thoughts that drift in are extremely influential. The massive impact it
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This advocated knowledge, education, and social support in hopes of erasing the stereotypes of mental illness that was installed in society from the beginning. Also, this led to the final reform movement, which began in 1975 and still continues today. This "community support" era views mental illness in terms of social welfare. Some problems include education, employment, housing, and governmental assistance (Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health, as cited in Morrison and Goldman, 1984).
Table 2-10. Historical reform movements in mental health treatment in the United States
Reform movement Era Setting Focus of Reform
Moral Treatment 1800-1850 Asylum Humane, restorative treatment
Mental Hygiene 1890-1920 Mental hospital or clinic Prevention, scientific orientation
Community Mental Health 1955-1970 Community mental health center Deinstitutionalization, social integration
Community Support 1975-present Community support Mental illness as a social welfare problem (e.g., housing, employment)
Sources: Morrissey & Goldman, 1984; Goldman & Morrissey, 1985.

In addition to the historical aspect, confusion about mental health is another reason leading to the perception of the mentally ill. The Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health, (1999), dispels any confusion by making detailed analogies and information. Mental health and mental illness are not opposites; they are like two points on a continuum. The value of mental health is

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