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The Shift Of Mental Illness On TV

We often find that media does not always portray people with mental illness in the best light. Rather than educating people about the mental health conditions and instilling hope in the recovery process, media can sometimes feed into the misconception that people with a mental disorder are violent, despite the fact that less than four percent of all violent crimes are committed by an individual with a mental illness. However, during this past year there have been several TV shows that have helped destigmatize and normalize mental health conditions.

Mental health on TV has been undergoing a quiet transformation in recent years, and in 2015, the change grew louder. FXX’s show You’re the Worst portrays one of the more interesting and accurate representations of depression on TV. CW’s new show, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend is using a musical format to highlight the complexities of depression and anxiety. Netflix’s BoJack Horseman’s goofy world contradicts its title character’s challenges with depression and substance abuse. Where depictions on TV were once almost exclusively belittling and dismissive, many now feel compassionate and honest.

Now days, most shows that portray characters with mental health disorders seek out the advice and guidance from advocates with lived experience. This genuine desire to avoid stereotypes has helped pull mental illness out of the darkness and into the light.

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Jill Hamilton, Project Coordinator, The Kim Foundation
Jill Hamilton has been the Project Coordinator at The Kim Foundation since 2014. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and public relations from The University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. Since working at the foundation, she has become an active member of the Nebraska State Suicide Prevention Coalition, Nebraska LOSS Advisory Committee, The Omaha Metro Hoarding Taskforce, The Early Childhood Mental Health Coalition, Nebraska State Conference Planning Committee; she is a volunteer mentor with Y.E.S., and serves as the Outreach Coordinator for the Metro Area LOSS Team.