When the media decides to portray mental illness, they are often praised. Reducing the stigma and representing people with mental illness is a great thing. However, when the media glamorizes or romanticizes mental illness as something it is not, it becomes poorly represented. There is nothing “trendy” or “cool” about glamorizing those who live with a mental illness. The media must put an end to romanticizing and glamorizing mental illness.
Romanticizing mental illness is an example of poorly representing those with mental health issues. Many teenagers have made mental illness out to be something trendy, quirky, and fun to have.
In recent years, young adults turned depression and anxiety into quirky personality traits. About twenty-five percent of the US population is made up of young adults with mental illness. They have also insisted that teenagers who do not have a mental illness are bland or have a boring personality.
“Psycho,” “Silence of the Lambs,” and “13 Reasons Why” are shows and movies that romanticize mental illness in some shape or form.
The popular show “13 Reasons Why” stars Hannah Baker, a high school girl who sent out cassette tapes blaming others for her suicide. The TV show dramatizes and romanticizes suicide. It shows the vast audience that instead of getting help, the only way you can escape pain is through blaming others and taking your own life.
Not only does Hannah’s death turn a pressing topic into a source of entertainment, but it allows for the copycat effect. The copycat effect is the alleged tendency for actions inspired or replicated by other actions, such as recreating another’s suicide.
The show also breaks the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Rules, which exist to avoid the copycat effect and misrepresentation of suicide. After the show was released self-harm and suicide rates increased.
The glamorization of mental illness has also led to people faking a mental illness. A survey conducted from ages twelve to seventeen by mentalie.com concluded in one out of three teens admitting to having lied about a mental disorder to stand out.
Pretending to have a mental illness is dangerous for several reasons. When a person imitates a mental illness, those with an actual mental illness do not always get the help that they need.
A study has also suggested when someone convinces themselves they have symptoms of a mental illness, it could potentially work its way into their mind.
Another issue that ties with glamorizing mental illness is stigmatizing it.
Mental illness openly discussed in the media, in general, is great. To avoid the misrepresentation of mental illness, it is up to those who produce TV shows, movies, and books to do the background research and avoid glamorizing mental illness. This is so people who live with mental illness can get the help they need by raising awareness of resources that can support a person in need of help.
Depicting a person with a mental illness, without sugar-coating or glamorizing them, is the key to sufficiently portraying mental illness.