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Mental Health: Changing perceptions, Challenging stereotypes

Whenever mental health problems are portrayed or discussed in the wider media, they conform to tired and outdated old stereotypes: that those who have mental health problems will be unable to live fulfilling and enriching lives, or that they will continue to attempt to overcome their problems but they will continue to fail. However these stereotypes really couldn’t be further from the truth, and a ground breaking study about the impact these media perceptions have has found that these outdated stereotypes are having a hugely negative impact on those young people who are having mental health problems.

The media’s focus on negative examples of mental health problems or addiction can cause huge stigma to build up against these groups of individuals. These negative stigmas can lead to discrimination and because of that, could ultimately mean that young people in need of help and support could choose not to seek it, for fear of being stigmatised themselves.

Instead, the media are being called upon to report and focus on positive stories about mental health and addiction; to talk about the many successful people who are living with mental health conditions and are stronger because they have struggled with them. The general public has a willingness to discriminate against those who have mental health conditions, far more than any other commonly suffered health problem. This can only be overcome by introducing the public to examples and stories about mental health conditions that ride in the face of all the negative stereotypes that they have been indoctrinated with. Talking about mental health conditions, rather than hiding them, has to be the first step.

To find out more about how stereotypes can be overcome, and perceptions of those struggling with mental illness can be changed, please read on here.