Have you ever considered how the movies and TV shows that you love portray mental health? Or have you ever looked at your favourite celebrity’s life and wondered if it was just as perfect as it seemed on the screen or in the news? Hollywood has a way of depicting everyday life in a certain way, and even if it’s not accurate, most of us barely notice.
We’re so consumed by the storyline or the glamour that we accept fantasy as reality. Could it actually be that Hollywood has just as many issues as any other part of the world? The answer seems to lean toward ‘yes.’ When we start to view the world through the lens of Hollywood, the consequences can be disastrous.
The truth is that television isn’t reality. Not even close. How the impact of hollywood on mental health has been depicted on the screen has negatively stigmatized mental health, whether intentional or not. The more we realize this, the better equipped we are to spot it and not let these stigmas take root in real life. You can click here for more information about mental health but can also keep reading to learn more about these alarming Hollywood stigmas that are actually myths.
People with Mental Health Problems Are: Dangerous?
Most people with mental health problems are not dangerous. They are usually not a threat to themselves or to others. Hollywood likes to depict those with mental illnesses as being menacing or scary. In this way, there is a stigma that mental health issues are abnormal and cause problems for everyone. The truth is that it’s normal to experience highs and lows in one’s mental health. A large chunk of the population does. In many cases, you’d never know someone was going through a hard time unless they told you or you asked.
People with Mental Health Problems Are: Violent?
Although mental illness can cause a person to become violent, most people who struggle with their mental health are not violent. At the very least, they’re no more likely to be violent than the general population. Movies and TV shows often portray the mentally ill as causing harm to others (or even to themselves), which isn’t true. There are many reasons a person can become violent, but mental illness should not be grouped in with those factors. In fact, people with mental illnesses are often more likely to be the victims of violent crimes.
People with Mental Health Problems Are: Unpredictable?
Hollywood tends to portray people with mental illnesses as ticking time bombs. They may show the person becoming more and more agitated until one day they just explode. While this could happen, it’s rare. Plus, anyone can become tenser and tenser each day; it’s not limited to people who have poor mental health. While many people with mental illnesses need somewhat frequent therapy, check-ins, or supervision, there are plenty who manage their illness without becoming sporadic or unpredictable. Perpetuating this stigma is harmful and can cause a person to have a lot of shame for what they’re experiencing.
People with Mental Health Problems Are: Crazy?
The last thing anyone with a mental illness wants to hear is that they’re crazy or that it’s all in their head. For someone who already feels isolated, this type of statement can be devastating. Hollywood has created the stigma that those with poorer mental health are insane, mad, or out of their mind. This just isn’t true. Hollywood tends to sensationalize everything and make the acting and scenes very dramatic.
The reality is that most people with mental health struggles look just like everyone else. Many hide their pain very well and you’d never know they’re having a hard time. This stigma in particular can cause people to shut down and not open up to others about what they’re going through. No one wants to be seen as crazy and everyone wants to be taken seriously.
Being aware of these stigmas is the first step to stopping them. When myths like these are preserved without a challenge, people are harmed. They face shame, embarrassment, and isolation, among other negative feelings. This is on top of the depression, anxiety, or other disorder they are already experiencing. In other words, stigmas only harm a person more; they never help anyone. Most of the time, people with mental illnesses just need to know that they’re not alone. They still have the desire to belong and to feel normal.
Everyone can help turn these stigmas on their head by speaking up when something untrue is said. Although Hollywood continues to perpetuate these harmful myths about mental illness, everyone can do their part by speaking up in real life. After all, Hollywood isn’t reality. If enough people care to make a change, hopefully, Hollywood will follow suit. If you know someone struggling with their mental health, let them know you’re there for them and act as a listening ear. Even the smallest efforts can make a huge difference in that person’s life.