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A study that looked at 34 Disney films found mental illness to be frequently used to depict characters in a negative light[efn_note]Lawson, A et al. 2004 May. "Mental illness in Disney animated films." The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15198467[/efn_note]. Makes sense, and think of the implications. The effects of poor media representation are tangible: research has found that school-age children develop poor outlooks of the mentally ill as early as kindergarten that endure into adolescence[efn_note]Weiss, MF. 1994 Feb 1. "Children's Attitudes towards the Mentally Ill: An Eight-Year Longitudinal Follow-up." Psychological Reports. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8153235[/efn_note], just around the age they are watching those films. Further, mental illness patients who experience stigma report lower self-esteem, rockier relationships, and less motivation to apply for jobs[efn_note]Stuart, H. 2006. "Media portrayal of mental illness and its treatments: what effect does it have on people with mental illness?" CNS Drugs. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16478286[/efn_note]. Another study found that perceived stigma can also negatively impact medication adherence[efn_note]Sirey, JA et al. 2001 Dec. "Stigma as a barrier to recovery: Perceived stigma and patient-rated severity of illness as predictors of antidepressant drug adherence." Psychiatric Services. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11726752[/efn_note]. It's clear that society-level stigma is a real problem that can negatively impact the well-being of mental illness patients and exacerbate symptoms, potentially causing a bitter cycle.
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