Healthy New Jersey

New Jersey Governor's Council on Mental Health Stigma

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Media and the Entertainment Industry

Media and the Entertainment Industry Play an Enormous Role in Perpetuating Stigma

There has been much progress in building sensitivity regarding many groups that have suffered the indignity of ugly stereotypes. Mental illness seems to exist separate and apart from all these groups. Those living with mental illness are sometimes exempt from the sensitivity and compassion that writers, journalists, filmmakers, and television producers afford those living with illnesses such as cancer and diabetes.

Opinions Are Shaped by what We See in the Media

People’s opinions are greatly influenced by what they read in newspapers, hear on the radio, and see on television and in movies. In a 1990 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 are rarely accurate. A report by Otto Wahl states that more than 70% of characters with mental illnesses in prime-time television drama are portrayed as violent, and more than one-fifth are shown as killers when 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 Explosion of the Internet Has Indeed Made This a Small World

We are bombarded with information at breakneck speed through a medium whose reach is unprecedented. The power and influence of the internet, combined with the already existing might of film, television, radio, and the printed word, provides us with a communication apparatus that is unparalleled. How that apparatus is utilized can make or break public opinion and perception. It is crucial that an avenue be made available for the countless number of talented writers, artists, filmmakers, and executives who use their creativity with integrity. If the media were to use their power and influence to educate instead of discriminate, they could change people's lives. There are many individuals in media and entertainment who are making contributions to the effort to combat stigma, including Glenn Close, actress and co-founder of Bring Change to Mind, and actors Joe Pantoliano and Jared Padalecki. 

The Audience Has the Power to Enact Change

Victims of discrimination have long used the power of the pocketbook to get the attention of the entertainment industry and the media. When people gather together to speak up about ugly and demeaning stereotyping on the screen and in print, sponsors and advertising executives listen and studios take notice. There are a number of advocacy initiatives focused on stigma in media and entertainment.

Additional Resources

Celebrities with Eating Disorders: Past and Present (openly proclaimed - information here will only contain information stated directly from the individual)
Paula Abdul, Jane Fonda, Ashlee Simpson, Mary-Kate Olsen, Lindsay Lohan, Jessica Alba, Christina Ricci, Felicity Huffman, Kelly Clarkson, Janice Dickinson, Jamie-Lynn Sigler, Scarlett Pomers, Princess Diana, Melanie Chisholm, Sally Field, Calista Flockhart, Carrie Otis, Alexandra Paul, Elisa Donovan, Alanis Morrisette, Sharon Osbourne, Fiona Apple, Audrey Hepburn, Kate Winslet, Kate Beckinsale, Sylvia Plath, Kelly Ripa, Ally Sheedy, Patty Duke, Tracey Gold, Sandra Dee, Susan Dey, Elton John, Billy Bob Thornton, Matthew Perry, Dennis Quaid, Alfred Hitchcock, Richey James, John Lennon, Adam Rickitt (to name a few)

Celebrities with Obsessive - Compulsive Disorder: Past and Present
David Beckham, Paul Gascoigne, Woody Allen, Harrison Ford, Emily Lloyd, Michelle Pfeiffer, Winona Ryder, Charles Dickens, Marcel Proust, Jessica Alba

Celebrities with Bipolar Disorder: Past and Present
Buzz Aldrin, Ned Beatty, Bobby Brown, Mark Vonnegut, Robert Evans, Stephen Fry, Francis Ford Coppola, Patricia Cornwell, Maurice Benard, Jack Irons, Patty Duke, Linda Hamilton, Jonathan Winters, Darryl Strawberry, Nick Traina, Sylvia Plath, Tim Burton, Rosemary Clooney, Ray Davies, Lynn Rivers, Kitty Dukakis, Spike Milligan, Carrie Fisher, Norman Wexler, Virginia Woolf, Ted Turner, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Ben Stiller, Dr. John, Tim Burton, Jim Carrey, Brian Wilson
Celebrities with Depressive Disorders: Past and Present
Sigmund Freud, Marilyn Monroe, Greg Louganis, Alanis Morrisette, Abraham Lincoln, Leo Tolstoy, Roseanne, Georgia O’Keefe, Tipper Gore, Lorraine Bracco, George Stephanopolous, Delta Burke, Dolly Parton, Edgar Allan Poe, Uma Thurman, Ashley Judd, Winona Rider, Sarah Silverman, Mike Wallace, Rosie O’Donnell
Celebrities with Schizophrenia: Past and Present
John Nash, Lionel Aldridge, Sid Barret
Celebrities who Have Suffered from Anxiety Disorder: Past and Present
Johnny Depp, Courtney Love, Sally Field, Oprah Winfrey, Marie Osmond and brother Donny, Barbra Streisand, Isaac Asimov, W.B. Yeats, John Steinbeck, Charlotte Bronte, Cher, Naomi Judd, Aretha Franklin, Sheryl Crow, Carly Simon, Ray Charles, Sissy Spacek, Burt Reynolds, John Candy, Anthony Hopkins, Dick Clark, Nicole Kidman, Kim Basinger, Earl Campbell, Joan Rivers, Howie Mandel, Charles Schultz, Sigmund Freud, Sir Isaac Newton

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