More than half a billion people worldwide have a nervous disorder or are addicted to alcohol or drugs. About 80% of these people live in low and middle income countries, and most of them do not receive appropriate treatment. Many are victims of stigma and prejudice, social exclusion and frequent violations of their human rights. All these factors lead to serious mental, physical, social and economic harm to these individuals, their families and society.
The power of the mass media to influence and shape public perceptions and the extent to which people in contemporary society are subjected to media influence makes them one of the most important factors in shaping public opinion in modern society. For good or bad the media shape our ideas and the way we perceive the world around us. For people suffering from mental illness, the consequences are often negative and lead to inaccurate portraits of mental health problems in society. False or inaccurate information provided by the media about mental illness, even with a positive message, leads to misunderstanding, which has significant and very real consequences.
Frequent inaccurate and unprofessional description of specific psychiatric symptoms may lead to false ideas and confusion, conflicts and delays in seeking medical attention. A significant number of studies have found media to be the most important source of public information on mental health issues. A number of authors conclude that media images of mental illness are so strong that they can replace people's personal experience and knowledge of what they consider to be a mental illness. The news, films and TV shows of the mentally ill are labeled 'others' and they are separated from the general population. Often mentally ill are presented as unemployed, homeless, without family, without history and roots. Media publications transform a health problem into a public security issue and speculate about the fear of violence and the lack of understanding of the nature of mental illness. People with mental illness often have media representations as the "version" of the devil, they are depicted as lunatics, out of control, aiming only to cause unnecessary death and destruction.
In fact, mental illness is a weak predictor of violence. Most of the aggressors do not suffer from a mental illness. In fact, people with mental disorders are more often victims of violence than violent. Studies have shown that exposure to a single media-shocking image of an aggressive or dangerous mentally ill increases the public expectation that any mentally ill will most likely exert physical aggression on others. According to Mind, the negative media performance exerts a serious damaging effect on the lives of people with mental illness. More than half of respondents say that media coverage has an impact on their mental health
- 34% say that this increases their anxiety and depression,
- 22% feel more isolated, and 8% of such media coverage causes suicidal thoughts;
- 22% have noticed a hostile attitude on the part of their neighbors as a result of negative media publications,
- 11% said they had to seek additional psychiatric help,
- 25% have changed their intention to apply for a job ...
What do our senses face when we open the morning paper, turn on the TV or go into our social network?
... With what we see and listen to