Over the recent years, society as a whole has been steadily raising awareness of men’s mental health. We are certainly moving in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. More specifically we need to adequately represent the various mental health issues that affect people. This is because there is still a lot of misinformation out there, as well as incorrect depictions of certain mental health illnesses. For example, depression is often visually represented as someone who is consistently sad, whereas the reality is often much more complex.
With issues such as psychosis, people could envision a “psychopath” or someone who is clearly dangerous. This, as we should all know is not the reality and this often paints quite a worrying picture for a lot of sufferers, as they will feel further stigmatised by their conditions. It’s understandable that visual representations of these illnesses are often dramatised to better convey the mood to the audience, yet this can also lead to misinformation as visual depictions of mental illness have very little/if any truth within their representation. This is a complex issue because whilst mental health representation is positive overall, it can sometimes lead to damaging expectations within reality.
For example, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) is often represented as being a physical thing, where someone might have an obsession with turning the lights on and off, or simply wanting everything symmetrical. This is often an incorrect representation, and often causes issues with stigma if OCD is shown in a comedic light. This is especially true for television, where an OCD sufferer can be represented as the goofy character or oddball. Whereas, OCD in reality is dependent on the individual, sometimes their obsessions may be physical or manifestations of the mind. The complex nature of mental health means that any direct representation of it, whether that be textual or visual methods, will be inherently wrong to someone else. We need to get rid of conventional expectations of various mental health issues, and work towards a more encompassing and grounded representation of the reality that these sufferers experience. In order for us to remove the stigma, we need to remove what is “expected”, we need to raise awareness and prevent the spread of misinformation.