Opinions are shaped by what we read in newspapers, what we hear on the radio, and what we see on television and in the movies. In a survey by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, respondents indicated that their primary source of knowledge about mental illness was the mass media. But these images rarely are accurate. In actuality, studies have shown that only a minuscule percentage of the violence in American society can be attributed to people who have mental illnesses.
The media?s negative images of people with mental illnesses can lead to the misconception that people with mental illnesses are violent and have limited potential for positive participation in society. Another effect of the media?s portrayal of people with mental illnesses is that people who have mental illnesses may start believing these negative messages about themselves.
The materials in this section provide practical information on how individuals and communities can take action to reduce the negative attitudes associated with mental illness and counter discrimination in the media. The materials also can teach representatives of the media what they can do to foster understanding, hope and recovery, and present accurate portrayals of people with mental illnesses in the news and entertainment industry.