Most people are not attending conferences, reading journals, or consulting with psychologists regularly for news and information about mental health. Where do we mostly often see and hear of mental health? TV and movies, of course!
At first blush this may seem like a bad thing: who wants to get health advice from their favorite sitcom? Mindy Kaling may be funny, but a mental health expert she is not. On closer look, however, we find that TV shows, movies, and other forms of media can be fantastic ways to learn about psychological health, treatment and resources.
Watching our favorite TV and movie characters cope with, and learn more about, mental illness can make the process a bit easier in our own lives. When done well, a story line about bullying, teen suicide, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or grief can enlighten large numbers of people and provide them with hope, resources and courage to tackle their own struggles.
And that’s important for everyone because psychology and mental health are things that affect all of us. We all have a brain, a psychological life and family and/or friends with whom we interact. Additionally, an estimated 22 to 23 percent of the U.S. population experiences a mental disorder in any given year.
Nominate a Deserving TV Show, Movie for a Voice Award
Luckily, we have a way to recognize the outstanding work done by programs and movies that highlight mental health issues in positive, informative ways. Every year the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Voice Awards program recognizes consumer/peer leaders and TV and film professionals who educate the public about the real experiences of people with behavioral health problems. They are accepting nominations through March 29 for your favorite TV and movies.