The Effects Of Media On Mental Health Stigma

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Throughout the past fifty years, the media has developed dual, counterintuitive roles in regard to mental health stigma. While the media has been a major contributor to the negative attitudes surrounding mental illness, it has recently evolved to become one of the most effective means of ameliorating stigma. However, the media needs to continue to improve in order to promote a healthy environment for people with mental illness.
Before narrowing our focus on the media, we must clarify the terms mental illness and stigma. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, a mental illness is “a condition that impacts a person’s thinking, feeling or mood and may affect his or her ability to relate to others and function on a daily basis.” A survey conducted by the CDC reveals that 26.2% of adults in the US have at least one mental disorder. 5-7% of US adults have a “serious mental illness,” and 5-9% of children have a “serious emotional disturbance.” Mental illness remains the top cause of disability in the US, and, according to the World Health Organization, more US citizens die from suicide every year than from war or homicide. One contributor to the high suicide rate is stigma. According to the President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, stigma “refers to a cluster of negative attitudes and beliefs that motivate the general public to fear, reject, avoid, and discriminate against people with mental illnesses.” Mental health stigma remains a major reason why people

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