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Treatment of illnesses on TV affecting teen mental health

Parents are worried about children hiding symptoms

Published by Scarlett Bawden-Gaul at 7:55am 16th February 2020. 2-minute read.

Treatment of illnesses on TV affecting teen mental health

Teen mental health is being affected by the treatment its given in TV shows. 

Research from BUPA found mental health terms were used an average of twice an episode. 

However, nearly half of the mentions were dismissive, humorous or mocking. 

Terms like "psycho", "depressed" or "insane" were often used as descriptors. 

Arun is the medical director for BUPA UK:

"We're not saying that these TV shows should be banned, but its just enabling those young people to be informed about the content they're consuming. 

"So they understand they're not abnormal. Young people especially sometimes find it difficult to distinguish between symptoms that might go away quite quickly or ones that may go on for a while."

Parents of young people were also consulted and said the shows are causing teens to misuse the terms.

They also said they were worried about teens hiding their symptoms due to embarrassment. 

Half of parents believe their children's knowledge of mental health mostly comes from popular culture sources like social media, film and television.

Aimee is from mental health charity MIND says when shows treat the subject with respect it is powerful for viewers:

"We know it's having a huge impact on whoever is watching or listening, because they're having their own experiences validated.

"The way that we use language can have an impact on people experiences and whether they're going to speak out about what they're going through."

Bupa UK Foundation and the charity Mind have partnered to offer young people and their families access to a brand-new set of free and practical online information resources to help improve their mental health. 

Together they are aiming to help 2.5 million people by 2022 through information resources designed with children and young people aged 11-25 to help improve their mental health.

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