This is a blog for the Mental Health Policy Class at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work.

August 24, 2009

Heath Ledger’s Joker 'exacerbates stereotypes about mental health'

Hollywood shows schizophrenics and those with other mental illnesses only as either stupid or evil, according to a new report for the Time to Change Campaign, which is backed by the Mind and Rethink charities.
The latest Batman film, for which Ledger won a posthumous Oscar, is criticised for pandering to a false stereotype of schizophrenics, that they have split personalities.
. . . .
A survey of 1989 people, commissioned for the report, found that 49 per cent had seen people with a mental illness acting violently on screen.
In total, 44 per cent of those asked believe that people with mental illnesses are more prone to violence.
Sue Baker, Director for Time to Change, said: “This report highlights that movies are the main source of information that reinforces negative stereotypes of mental illness above and beyond any other form of media.
“We need to make it clear to directors and producers that they can still break box office records without wrecking lives.”

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