Mental Illness In The Media


Stigma is one of the many barriers for individuals with mental illness to overcome.

 What are the most common images that come up regarding mental illness in the media?   More often than not, people with mental illness are depicted as troubled souls who desperately need help.  How often do we hear of a shooting and automatically attribute it to mental illness before we even read the story?  Most movies that feature characters with mental illness are deranged killers or people who have experienced a psychotic break from reality.

Despite efforts to shed the light on mental health issues, the ways mental illness is often depicted continues to perpetuate negative stigmas and stereotypes.  Most of the news about people with mental illness is bad news and highlights the “need to help” versus our need as a broken community of people to connect with each other.

However, we’re thankful that more attention is being given reducing social stigmas connected with mental illness.  As a culture, we have come a long way in the past 100 years when the mentality used to be “out of sight, out of mind.”

We’d like to spend our time this week focusing on three individuals who have been successful in coping with their mental illness and have led a positive, productive life.

Famous People Who Suffered From Mental Illness

The first one that comes to mind is John Nash.  He is a brilliant mathematician who has also learned to live with schizophrenia.  He helped to pioneer non-cooperative game theory and real algebraic geometry.  He also won the Nobel Prize for math in 1994.  The movie, A Beautiful Mind is based on his story.

One of America’s most famous presidents, Abraham Lincoln, was said to suffer bouts of severe depression and suicidal thoughts.  Lincoln dedicated himself to work, humor, and religion as ways of coping with his illness.  He also stated that his depression was a “misfortune” rather than a fault.  What a tremendous revelation he had at the time, knowing that his struggles were not a reflection of his character.

Returning to the 21st century, the late Steve Jobs was known for his obsessive compulsive tendencies.  When the original Apple computers were being rolled out in the 80’s, he would get down on his hands and knees, inspecting the floor for bits of dirt and dust, claiming that no computer factory would be successful if it didn’t have the discipline to keep the workplace clean.  He was later known for pouring over business documents checking for spelling and grammatical errors, often throwing fits of rage if he found a mistake.  Over time, Jobs learned to channel his energy into designing and making many of the brilliant products which we use today.

The main message that we at PTI want to get out to the world is that mental illness happens and we’re here to help people overcome their illness in order to lead healthy and productive lives.  We believe in the power of change and that there’s always hope.  Give us a call today for a consultation or a mental health screening, we have top-notch mental health professionals working at our offices in Baton Rouge and Covington and we are ready to serve you.