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February 14, 2021 - 14:11:08 pm

The media are essential players in any movement for change, as they have an important role in determining public attitudes to mental illness.[1] Although the media are but one source of the messages, it is generally thought that mass media images of mental illness perpetuate mental illness stigma. [2] Stigma is identified as the most common barrier to Filipino help-seeking behavior in mental health. “Social stigma puts the family’s reputation at stake or places one’s cultural group in bad light.”[3]

In recent years, our understanding of how to improve community attitudes to mental illness has become more sophisticated. There is now awareness that we need long-term strategies to combat stigma by disengaging mental illness from associated fears and anxieties and by improving knowledge and attitudes. [4] To start with these improvements, we have to investigate several ethical challenges. The pervasive content of entertainment film and television in particular, which are the most widespread of entertainment media, includes violence and other illegal behaviors; gratuitous sex; marginalization of various social groups, including the mentally ill; and a heavy emphasis on consumption—far from healthy media fare. [5]

Limited communication of some media with mental health professionals: doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists, guidance counselors, and social workers who are most responsible for mental health have adverse health effects and contribute often to the wrong information spoken to the public about mental patients and the events associated with them. The media are a key link in informing people to recognize the importance and interdependence of physical and mental condition. Media writing, TV shows and movies often may lead to the stigma risks.[6] If the mass media can have a negative influence on the perception of mental illness, it is reasonable to expect that it should also be able to exert a positive influence to reduce stigma. [7]

The PAP encourages the film and media industry for responsible, accurate, and ethical communication and production of movies, documentaries, posters, and other-related output for mass consumption to reduce the current stigmatization of mental health.

Let us promote and protect the mental health of Filipinos.

[1] Francis C, Pirkis J, Dunt D. Mental health and illness in the media: a review of the literature, 2001. Media Monitoring Project. Canberra: Commonwealth of Australia, Mental Health and Special Programs Branch, 2002. Available at: http:// www.auseinet.com/resources/other/index.php (accessed Jan 2003).

[2] Stout, P. A., Villegas, J., & Jennings, N. A. (2004). Images of mental illness in the media: identifying gaps in the research. Schizophrenia bulletin, 30(3), 543-561.

[3] Martinez A, Co M, Lau J, Brown, J. Filipino help-seeking for mental health problems and associated barriers and facilitators: a systematic review, 2020. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology volume 55, pages1397–1413 (2020)

[4] Hocking, B. (2003). Reducing mental illness stigma and discrimination-everybody's business. Medical Journal of Australia, 178(9), S47.

[5] Caputo, N. M., & Rouner, D. (2011). Narrative processing of entertainment media and mental illness stigma. Health communication, 26(7), 595-604.

[6] Babic, D. (2010). Stigma and mental illness. Materia Socio-Medica, 22(1), 43.

[7] Stout, P. A., Villegas, J., & Jennings, N. A. (2004). Images of mental illness in the media: identifying gaps in the research. Schizophrenia bulletin, 30(3), 543-561.

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