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07-21 Impact of media: Are providers like Netflix leading a change on mental health?

Posted in Mental Health

Impact of media: Are providers like Netflix leading a change on mental health?

Various TV programs, as well as shows streamed by media providers like Netflix, are lending great insight into mental health issues these days. As opposed to in the past when fear of stigma prevented people from opening up about their mental health problems, nowadays, one gets to see increased number of conversations revolving around psychiatric illnesses.

These days when one can watch serials on one’s mobile phone on the go through an App, the reach of media is like never before. Therefore, programs on television, laptop screens and mobiles, created by online providers like Netflix can play an important role in initiating a wide ranging discussion on taboo subjects such as mental disorders. This can go a long way in creating awareness about such issues.

In addition to this, the internet is now awash with news about celebrities talking openly about their mental disorders. This is acting as a catalyst and encouraging an entire generation to come forward and talk about their mental disorders with loved ones and seek help. Something which was unthinkable till some time back. There is also greater acceptance about such problems now. In the past, programs like “13 Reasons Why?” brought the issue of teen suicide to the forefront and now a new series is shedding light on eating disorders. While attention is being paid to problems like disordered eating habits among some adolescents, experts continue to question the effectiveness of the same.

Bringing eating disorders into focus

The debate surrounding the idea of bringing eating disorders into focus stems from the movie To the Bone released in July 2017 on Netflix. The film showcases the struggle of a 20-year-old anorexic girl (played by actress Lilly Collins) who has spent a major portion of her life in recovery programs until one incident forces her to confront her problems and attempt to have a realistic look at herself.

The film has attracted both acclaim and criticism for its honest portrayal of agony and suffering of a young girl living with anorexia nervosa and the symptoms of the illness. While the depiction of the utter discomfort that affects anorexic patients draws widespread attention to the pervasiveness of the disorder, the script abstains from portraying eating disorders and similar mental illnesses as glamorous. The movie drives home the point that eating disorders are dangerous illnesses that must not be taken lightly and hence require serious treatment.

Cynics opine that depiction of mental issues like eating disorders, which affect roughly 30 million Americans, may not have the necessary positive outcome. The movie may have an appealing effect on those who have no knowledge of the disorder or are unaffected by the illness. However, people grappling with the disorder can also watch the film and it can have a negative effect on them.

Stressing on the potential adverse consequences of watching the film, Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA), said, “Scenes in ‘To the Bone’ increase the risk that some viewers may find Collins’ character inspiring rather than deterring, particularly to those individuals early in the treatment process. I would strongly encourage people who are in recovery or struggling with an eating disorder to carefully consider how the imagery and detail in this film could affect them.”

The film’s story also underlines suicidal tendencies that arise out of addiction or emotional disorders that some people with undiagnosed psychiatric disorders may find alluring, which, in turn, may also raise the risk of them being involved in similar incidents. Documentation of teen suicide and various psychological illnesses puts the spotlight back on frequency of mental disorders that young Americans find themselves struggling with.

Seeking treatment

The first step to recovery is an admission of the problem itself. Though it takes a lot of courage to acknowledge the existence of the disorder, affected teenagers must realize that self-awareness is the first step that leads to improvement. Adolescents suffering from eating disorders must understand that the manifestations involved may be signs of lingering mental illnesses and hence need to be treated.

Sovereign Health of Rancho San Diego provides comprehensive and holistic treatment for teens suffering from mental health issues, including eating disorders. Our experts assess the gravity of the problems based on self-reported symptoms, in addition to other factors such as genetic, environmental and behavioral. Clinicians treating eating disorders in teens recommend a host of therapies, along with necessary medicines, aimed at making available holistic treatment to those in need. To gain more information about our teen eating disorder treatment, you may call our 24/7 helpline number or chat with our online representatives.

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