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 can leave on America's perception leads to generalizations, assumptions, and stigmas. The media influence is not always negative, however. In most cases it has beneficial and positive aspects. Without the media, people would be drastically less informed and conscientious about major issues in the world around us. In some cases, however, the way the media portrays an issue can twist one's perception, leaving an assumption instead of a factual concept. Mental illness is one of the biggest concepts that the media has distorted due to the majority of portrayals the media presents. Mental health is extremely important and plays a key role in every individual's life. Yet it is also has millions of misconceptions. Mental illness is more common that one would like to believe. In reality, one in five Americans will suffer from a mental disorder in any given year. Though that ratio is about equivalent to more than fifty-four million people, mental illness still remains a shameful and stigmatized topic (National Institute of Mental Health, n.d.). The taboo of mental illness has an extensive and exhausting history, dating back to the beginning of American colonization.