Movies and Madness
Testimonial: “Mental illness is often inaccurately portrayed in popular film. I really enjoyed taking Movies and Madness because we had the opportunity to learn about the symptoms of mental illness instead of accepting what we see in film as reality. While we watched most of our films together as a class, I really enjoyed our independent film reviews because it gave me the chance to see if I could tell which aspects of mental illness were dramatized or accurate on my own. I also enjoyed our stigma buster project because we had the chance to educate students outside of the psychology department about the realities of mental illness. With all the negative stereotypes that surround mental illness, Movies and Madness is a great course that helps promote awareness in students of all majors.” – Emily Quandt ‘15
Movies and Madness explores the ways people with mental illnesses and psychological disorders as well as those who provide treatment to those people have been presented in feature films. Film, like other forms of media, has a powerful impact on culture, informing and mirroring our feelings, thoughts and actions as individuals. The course examines the issue of stigmatization and marginalization of people with mental illness as a social problem exacerbated by misleading and negative images presented in the mass media. The course also provides very basic information about psychological disorders, the mental health system and various treatment approaches.
Objectives of the Course include the following:
- To be able to critically evaluate depictions of people with mental illnesses and psychological disorders in feature films.
- To be able to critically evaluate depictions of mental health professionals and the treatment of psychological disorders in feature films.
- To develop a sophisticated understanding of the impact of inaccurate and negative images of mental illnesses and their treatment on individuals and the culture as a whole.
- To learn basic information about psychological disorders and their treatment that is both accurate and useful.
Given that most people in American culture learn about mental illness and psychological disorders from the mass media, most of what they know is inaccurate and stereotyped. This leads to the further stigmatization and marginalization of people with mental illnesses and causes such people to be negatively impacted in a variety of ways. In addition, negative and/or misinformed attitudes about mental illness leaves people vulnerable to neglecting their own mental health needs and the needs of those around them. This course will be an attempt to address these issues.
Stigma Buster Projects
In the Movies and Madness course, students design and complete Stigma Buster projects. A stigma buster project is designed “…to fight the inaccurate, hurtful representations of mental illness. Whether these images are found in TV, film, print, or other media, Stigma Busters speak out and challenge stereotypes in an effort to educate society about the reality of mental illness and the courageous struggles faced by consumers and families every day. Stigma Busters’ goal is to break down the barriers of ignorance, prejudice, or unfair discrimination by promoting education, understanding, and respect” (NAMI).
The purpose of these projects is to educate the campus and wider community concerning issues of mental illness and its treatment, communicate to the campus and wider community about the degree of misinformation that surrounds us concerning mental illness and its treatment and encourage members of the campus community to develop more accurate and mindful perceptions of people with mental illnesses.
Examples of projects:
- Compose a newspaper article or advertisement for the campus paper, The Alliance Review, The Canton Repository, or your hometown newspaper.
- Create a radio public service announcement for air on campus or other radio stations.
- Create a video public service announcement for air on campus or local television stations.
- Create posters, pamphlets, flyers, stickers or other educational media.
- Develop a website.
- Develop a proposal for the creation of a student support group (e.g. NAMI on campus).
- Develop materials for a hall/house program.
- Create a teach-in or panel discussion.
- Work with the counseling staff to incorporate materials and a local resource list in orientation materials given to new students.
- Develop and present materials to be presented to in classes.
- Develop materials to be used by residence hall staff in programs.
- Host a movie and discussion on campus.
- Plan, with counseling staff, free mental health screenings (including advertising and educational media).
- Write to your senators and representative concerning legislation related to mental health.