When people sit down to watch TV or read the newspaper, they tend to see that a lot of criminals are allegedly linked with mental illnesses. This has become so common that most people now associate a lot of criminal behavior with mental illnesses. This negative stigma is causing a lot of people to look down upon people who have them rather than support those who struggle with them. According to Huffington Post, a new study revealed by John Hopkins University shows that one out of every three articles about mental illnesses includes criminal activities or violence towards others.
This ratio of crime and mental illness that the media portrays is not realistic at all, according to the study. Whereas the media makes it seem as if a lot of violent events between people has something to do with a mental illness, it is actually only 3-5% of violent acts that have anything to do with someone who has a diagnosed mental illness.
Television and print stories were analyzed to see the relationship between interpersonal violence and mental illness. The apparent tone of all of the articles that were researched seemed very negative, according to the researchers, meaning that the media industry has not changed their tone towards how they write in order to be received in a certain way by the public.
More than half of the stories on mental illness mentioned some type of violent behavior, including violence against others or violence related to suicide and self-harm.
It’s important to point out that the study did not include local TV news, blogs and other online sources, which may account for a large portion of a typical American’s media diet. It’s difficult to assess whether or not that would have made a difference.
A mind-blowing statistic that many people are not aware of is that people who suffer from mental illnesses are 10 times more likely to be the victims of an attack by someone else. But, sadly, stories that are about violence and taboo societal subjects tend to get a lot of attention in the media, so there are a lot of stories that continue to push the wrongful notion that violence and mental illnesses are connected; this is not true.
With 1 in 4 people having a mental illness, you would think that the media would want to promote awareness or positivity towards the topic rather than add to the negatively and unwarranted bias that society has built. Ultimately, it is the responsibility of the media to make sure that things are not wrongly portrayed. It is also the responsibility of each individual to be aware of all of the facts in order to know the truth.
Lead Image Credit: News; StePippo via Flickr Commons