Hey my Lovelies,
It’s Monday, which means I’m back with another Mental Health Awareness post.
In my very first mental health article, I made the point that Mental illness isn’t exclusive to one kind. Everyone has mental health, therefore, everyone’s mental health is at potential risk of worsening, which can then cause the development of mental illness over time due to the absence of a correct diagnosis and treatment by a mental health professional – Read here: Mental Illness isn’t partial
In this post I’ll speak about:
- How The Media portrays Mental Health
- Recent representation of Mental Health in The Media
- What more can be done to further de-stigmatise the view of Mental Health and illnesses in The Media
How The Media portrays Mental Health
In recent years The Media has gotten much better at highlighting mental health and raising more awareness of the importance on the matter, but there are still so many areas that could be highlighted. Given the fact that the media is such a huge outlet, I feel it’s paramount that when covering topics of mental health and specific mental disorders it needs to be done so in a meticulous manner, with sensitivity so as to not create more backlash and drama than education about the topic at hand to the masses. Over the years I have limited myself to things I view, for instance, I don’t watch TV at home and I’m also not a fan of many soap operas. My reason for this is because; 1) It was having a negative effect on the way I was thinking due to the oversaturation of dramatization. Nowadays, the more drama and hype, the more impact it has on your view of reality and that is a scientific fact. Also, the portrayal of mental health on soap operas became very bothersome to me as they would almost always write the character to be dangerous and villainous. In many cases, the actor who is playing the role of someone with a mental illness doesn’t understand from real experiences how it is to live with these disorders, also portraying that anyone with the mental illness is, ‘problematic‘ and weak which is hugely damaging. There has been such a rise in mental health issues amongst the younger generation and suicide rates are soaring to heights never seen before, which further emphasizes how important it is for a correct and balanced representation of mental health and illness in The Media.
PDF view of suicide rates gathered for 2019 – HERE
Recent representation of Mental Health in The Media
In the last couple of years, we have seen more and more awareness campaigns to highlight the importance of good mental health and the different experiences people have whilst living with one or more mental disorders.
TV Stations such as The BBC and Channel 4 have had their share in highlighting mental health and sharing real experiences of everyday people which aids in active efforts to de-stigmatise mental illness.
Ugly Me: My Life with Body Dysmorphia is a documentary following the life of a young lady, Liane as she navigates through life living with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). This isn’t an illness spoken of much so to see this platform looking into individuals who suffer from this is commendable on their part so that more people become aware of the less spoken of struggles that people face. 1 in 50 people has body dysmorphic disorder which means it is very common and at some point, we have all come into contact with someone who is suffering from this illness. It is also reported that only 5% of people who suffer from BDD get treatment from mental health services and suicide amongst people diagnosed with BDD is thirty times the national average which brings me to reiterate my emphasis on why it’s so important for disorders such as BDD to be spoken of and represented.
This documentary came out in the summer of 2018 and remains on BBC iPlayer for another 10 months.
Nadiya Hussain opens up and shares with us her life long struggles as she speaks about her crippling anxiety and panic attacks. In 2015 Nadiya became the winner of the well-known television programme ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and since then has continued to grace the general public with screen appearances and recipes for her baked goods.
During Nadiya: Anxiety and Me, Nadiya shares with us and a CBT Therapist the details of past experiences that she can’t escape from and how the flashbacks and feelings of almost dying have become an even further stumbling block to her every single day. She had never seen a therapist before or had a proper diagnosis of anxiety disorder but suspected for a long time of the possibility, which is a very common diagnosis to have in the UK to where at least 5 million people suffer. We get to hear of events that she has endured and reasons behind some of the behaviours that she has displayed from childhood up until today as a very successful chef, with 2 beautiful children and a supportive husband.
Not only is her openness and honesty encouraging as a person who rose to fame as a regular citizen but also as a female of Bangladeshi descent and that of a darker complexion.
Anxiety is like a “monster”, Nadiya says. Everyone has anxiety but the depths in which it manifests in each of us due to different environmental factors is what separates someone having regular anxiety and being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Although anxiety takes a longer time to be diagnosed than depression, a positive note is that severe anxiety is something that can become better for a lot of people over time, no complete eradication of anxiety is possible but with correct treatment and lifestyle changes/practices etc. Anxiety Disorder can become easier to manage.
The one-off Documentary follows Nadiya as she speaks to adolescents in a school about prioritising their mental health needs, she meets up with Laura Bartley – Blogger & Journalist to discuss how she has managed to stay grounded whilst battling mental illness and coming to terms on how she can really challenge herself and find ways to manage her anxiety, not just for her peace of mind but for her children, marriage and relationship with life on a whole.
These sessions are raw and honest, but Nadiya hopes her openness will inspire others to seek help rather than suffer in silence.
Representation of Black Men in The Media
Black men in Britain are ten times more likely than white men to be diagnosed with a psychotic illness and four times more likely to be sectioned.
Does it come as a surprise to you if I say, there is still a massive stigma around psychosis and mental illnesses? Probably not.
Psychosis patients are seen as scary, dangerous and crazy. These patients are individuals who are the most misrepresented in movies and in The Media which goes to further emphasise what I stated earlier in this article about soap operas and the portrayal of individuals with mental ill health.
David Harewood – Psychosis & Me (BBC) is an enlightening & insightful documentary where actor David Harewood is open & honest about his past experience on a mental health ward dealing with psychosis. He takes us back 30 years in time and shares his personal story about being a young 1st Generation West Indian man growing up in Birmingham, with a strong desire to be an actor.
Psychosis & Me (BBC) touches on serious topics such as race, class, marginalisation, discrimination and also hones in on the role that parent-child relationships and friendships play when it comes to dealing with mental illness. Whilst speaking with Dr Chanelle Myrie (Clinical Psychologist) she highlights that Black men are in fact sectioned more than their white male counterparts due to factors such as fear of stigma and abuse therefor arriving at hospitals near enough at the point of crisis.
A few Organisations mentioned during the documentary:
Early Intervention – NHS organisation for individuals who specifically suffer from psychosis.
Birmingham’s Street Triage Team – deals with around 300 calls a month. Work with West Midlands Police and West Midlands Ambulance Service to diffuse mental health situations, so that patients are treated well & safely in circumstances of crisis and safeguarding.
Between 2011 & 2016 psychiatric problems in A&E rose by almost 50%
To watch Ugly Me: My Life with Body Dysmorphia – CLICK HERE
To watch Nadiya: Anxiety and Me – CLICK HERE
To watch David Harewood – Psychosis & Me (BBC) – CLICK HERE
Find out more about anxiety – BBC.com/bitesize
Find out more about psychosis – bbc.co.uk/psychosisandme
What’s should happen next?
Continue to break the stigma
The rise in mental health portrayal has been for the better. In order to continue breaking the stigma of ill mental health and disorders, people need listening to more and it has to get to a point where speaking about mental illness is just as common as speaking about a broken leg.
More representation of Mental Health disorders amongst minorities
This world is diverse and so everyone’s experiences are diverse. In that case to normalise the practice of asking for help and seeking support for mental health should be something that all races, status and people have access to. There needs to be more representation of those in the minority speaking on mental health and the importance of the issue.
*I’m going to do a series of separate blogs about Mental Health in Minority Communities soon
What YOU can do
Share your experiences about mental health and start to speak about mental health as openly as the latest gossip. Not everyone has a mental illness but Mental Health is something that we ALL have and so speaking about it shouldn’t be taboo especially when the younger generation is suffering more than ever.
You may not be at a point where you feel as though you can share your experience with mental illness or mental health struggles, but you can try to empathise with those of us who are at a level where we try our hardest to speak up about debilitating disorders that are a part of our reality, if not our own diagnosis then that of a family member where we witness first hand the real deal.
I’ll leave this article with something said very well by a lady featured on Psychosis & Me, her name is, Kanwaree and she herself was open about her journey as a psychosis patient (Early Intervention service user). She said, “Sometimes you hit a place when you just have to be open and honest about everything”
Thank you for reading.
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