Author(s): Wilson C, Nairn R, Coverdale J, Panapa A
Abstract Share this page
Abstract BACKGROUND: There are no published studies concerning the depiction of mental illness in children's television programmes. AIMS: To determine whether mental illness was depicted in children's television. METHOD: Sample of one complete week of children's television (57 hours, 50 minutes; 128 series episodes: 69 cartoon animations, 12 non-cartoon animations, 47 real life) provided for children under the age of 10 years. Disclosure analysis of portrayals of mental illness through repeated viewings identified patterns in the use of linguistic, semiotic and rhetorical resources. RESULTS: Of the 128 episodes, 59 (46\%) contained one or more references to mental illness, predominantly in cartoons (n = 47, 80\%) compared with other episode types (chi 2 = 17.1, d.f. = 2, P < 0.05). Commonly occurring terms such as 'crazy' (n = 28), 'mad' (n = 19) and 'losing your mind' (n = 13) were employed to denote loss of control. The six consistently mentally ill characters were almost entirely devoid of admirable attributes. CONCLUSION: Young viewers are being socialized into stigmatizing conceptions of mental illness.
This article was published in Br J Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Community Medicine & Health Education