This depression is portrayed, stigmatised and stereotyped in the

This
essay will focus on mental health – depression, and how the issue of depression
has and is perceived throughout society
today. One of the first things I need to address is the meaning of term
‘depression’; “Depression
is a common mental disorder that causes people to experience depressed mood,
loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed
sleep or appetite, low energy, and poor concentration”. (Mental Health
Foundation, n.d.). A survey by ‘mental health and well-being (NHS) states; ‘One
in three adults (37 percent) aged 16-74,
with conditions such as anxiety or depression, surveyed in England, were
accessing mental health treatment in 2014’ (Content.digital.nhs.uk,
2015) For this essay I will be
reviewing all quantitative and qualitative data from all legitimate sources to
find how depression is portrayed, stigmatised and stereotyped in the media and how it influences the mental health of
individuals. Sources will include websites such as Facebook and Instagram, all
newspaper media sources and blogs, journals and magazines.

Depression was first recognised as an illness in the 1950’s as a
complex issue, which can affect personal identity, the forming of friendships,
social interaction and can cause an individual to become completely isolated.
Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in the UK with
9/10 people with a mental health problem experiencing stigma and discrimination
because of their illness. People
view it as a weakness of mind, a melodramatic illness where you are supposed to
‘snap out of it’ or ‘get a grip’, which is easier said than done. Most
people have no idea of what depression or anxiety is and they gain information
on mental health through sources of the media and the way the media portrays
it. The difference is the reality of mental illness is nothing like what the
media makes it out to be. The media is persuasive in enforcing what information
they wish to give to the public, and it seems that rather than embrace and
discuss anxiety and depression as a common issue, it would rather glamorise it
and be over-dramatic in the way it distorts the image of the condition, paints
a negative picture so-to-speak, also, the media can be blamed for adding to the
stigma of mental illness. We have all watched films that are misleading the
watcher into believing that a psychiatric patient is ‘extremely dangerous’ or
is a potential ‘killer’, or that having the illness will render them dumb (and
dumber) and that Forrest Gump is a complete ‘loony’ which is far from the
truth. But, these films are designed to get the desired effect, which the co-operation’s require to capitalise on the issue.  On the other hand, films as of late have
tried to represent a mental illness such as depression more accurately, one
film comes to mind called ‘the Soloist’ which gives a better insight into the
mind of an individual who has a mental illness but is a brilliant musician,
though a good film it still doesn’t delve into the reasons why humans are like
that and, how serious the illness is.

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The representation of mental
illness in national newspapers, deeply suggest that people who have a mental
illness are dangerous, mad, crazy or unpredictable. An article in The Daily
Mail in 2015 grabbed the headlines with ‘ why on earth was he allowed to fly?’ ‘Suicide pilot had a long history of depression’ (Williams, 2015). The objective
of this article was to stigmatise
depression and anxiety for all the negative reasons. A quote from the same
article stated; “Today’s
headlines risk adding to the stigma surrounding mental health problems, which
millions of people experience each year, and we would encourage the media to
report this issue responsibly.”.

Over the last 20 years, society has changed dramatically with
the introduction of the internet and social media. There are many internet domains
which people use to keep in contact with friends, colleagues and family members
such as Facebook and Instagram which when used in the right way or context can
be great but it can also be a way of sizing up, or comparing the way another
person’s way of life is lived against theirs, causing envy, bitterness or
sadness and may advocate bullying and threats against other people including
racism, discrimination, and violence. A
study by Psychology Today Quote;
“the majority of social media users tend to edit and post only their most
attractive pictures, or ‘put a rose-tinted gloss over their lives’ in an effort
to idealise themselves and, researchers
believe, to improve others’ impressions of them”. (Abrams, 2017).

There are many different cultures and religions in the UK and they have
their own attitudes and beliefs on mental health and also where mental health issues derive from. The Asian
community in particular, if a family member has a mental health illness then it
can be seen to ‘bring shame’ to that family. Mental health problems are also related to inequality, deprivation,
poverty and other social and economic issues that can determine mental health.
Economic crises are therefore times of high risk to the mental well-being of
the population and of the people affected and their families.  The economy also has an effect on a person’s
mental health, for example, a middle-class family where both parents bring
home a relatively good income would not have the same stresses as a low-class family whose income is less than the national average. 

The public’s attitude towards
mental illness is broadly negative but, a recent report which was funded by the
Department of Health (DOH) in the UK, and commissioned by the anti-stigma
programme Time to Change, wanted
to change the public’s perception of mental health, including depression. The Government proposed a strategy that said they
wanted to keep people well and improve their mental health and also, to stop
the discrimination and stigma that is associated with the issue. A survey was
taken in England to try to establish what public opinions of mental health were
from 1994-2012. The aim of the survey was to monitor the changes in people’s
attitude towards mental health as a whole and on a personal basis. The
statistics have shown that in the last few decades more people are aware of
what mental health issues are, and it shows that more and more people are
beginning to accept and understand how to deal with an issue. Time to change
survey results stated that:
“Results show significant increases in the proportion of people who say
they would be: willing to continue a relationship with a friend with a mental
health problem (4% increase); willing to work with someone with a mental health
problem (6% increase); and willing to live nearby someone with a mental health
problem (5% increase). These increases were particularly significant in the
last year (2011 to 2012).” (Time To Change, 2013). It is known
that nationally 3.5 million peole have a better understanding of ssues that
surround mental health but, mental health charities said that there is still a
lot of work still be done to further improve the public views. The government
has issued warnings to media companies to change the way that they are
negatively portraying mental health illness and the DOH reports that changes
are finally being made to stop negative perceptions and promote more
descriptions of mental health in a more truthful and positive way. It seems to
be changing and according to the time for change director, Sue Baker; “Attitudes
towards mental health issues are finally beginning to move in the right
direction. Deep-seated prejudices are starting to shift and it’s a further sign
that we are heading towards a tipping point in England and that there is a real
appetite for change.” (O’Hara, 2009) Though it seems there is still a prejudice
and stigma surrounding it at least it is being recognised.

What needs to be looked are
the factors that may influence or change the views, attitudes, beliefs, and
culture towards mental health. The government has set legislation There are a
number of charities and services that provide information and support to people
who have a mental health issue, such as; Mind, Rethink mental illness, Together
and Young minds. The UK government mental health service reform policy  

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