TV dramas portraying mental illness as 'dangerous', says survey

The issue of mental health has been characterized as dangerous by various television dramas

Television dramas often portray characters with mental health problems as "dangerous", according to a Glasgow Media Group survey reported in Guardian on Monday.

The survey on British peak time programmes, which examined three months of drama programmes on British terrestrial channels between 4pm and 11pm from 1 January this year, found that 74 episodes from 34 different programmes contained mental illness-related story lines and that 33 of those involved violence towards others.

The report, called "Making a Drama out of a Crisis", also found that there were also 53 instances of self-harm.

The study, which said that mental illness is being used as an easy source of violent tragedy or as something to poke fun at, noted an increased use of telephone helplines or websites by the public after episodes that featured mental illness.

It, however quoted John Yorke, BBC controller of drama as saying that some instances such as EastEnders' character Stacey Branning's struggle with bipolar disorder should be commended for raising awareness of mental ill-health.

A report by Shift, the campaign to tackle the stigma associated with mental issues, added that 45 per cent of fictional characters with mental illness have storylines depicting them as violent or posing a threat to others.

 

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