Mental Health Is Finally Trending

The conversations we’ve needed to have for decades are finally taking place.

Mental health is trending. Now, more than ever, mental health is being portrayed in television series and in movies. While central characters cope with mental illness, celebrities are sharing their own personal experiences struggling with mental health disorders as well.

For so many years, mental health has been considered a taboo topic, and men especially feel like they can’t talk about their own struggles “due to long-standing societal norms.” Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a former athlete turned famous actor, opened up about his “battles with depression during his teen and early adult years.” He encouraged men to talk to someone about their mental health concerns and get treatment, instead of “bottling up their emotions.”

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps explained how depression almost ended his career. Phelps credits therapy as his saving grace for helping him through a dark time in his life, and he encourages others to seek out therapy or other types of treatment as well. Fortunately, this position that men should be tough and be able to handle it (it being emotional or psychological issues) has been challenged as more male celebrities and athletes come forward about their trials with mental illness.  more

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How Good Is Hollywood at Portraying Mental Illness?

Not great, says psychologist and film buff Danny Wedding.

Look at any classic horror film—Nightmare on Elm StreetFriday the 13thThe Shining—and you’re likely to find mental illness. It’s a convenient, if inaccurate, explanation for the maniacal violence that makes up the backbone of these stories. But in most films portraying mental illness, especially violent and bloody horror films, real life pathology is willfully abandoned in favor of melodramatic storytelling. At best, it’s lazy; at worst, it publicly and repeatedly demonizes the people who need the most help. In a recent article I wrote about the mentally ill being killed in disproportionate numbers by police, many people commented along the lines of “Well, of course, they’re much more dangerous,” which anybody working in mental health can tell you is not only untrue, but is the direct result of the media’s focus on a fictitious link between mental illness and violence.

I spoke with Dr. Danny Wedding, a former director of the Missouri Institute of Mental Health and co-author of Movies and Mental Illness: Using Films to Understand Psychopathology, to learn more about some of the more common movie myths.  more

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