By Alona Arneson
Mental illness is an aspect of human nature, both ignored and normalized, especially in the entertainment industry. Split is an upcoming thriller that centers around a man with 23 different personalities who takes three young girls hostage. Some may find this plot intriguing, cheesy, or creepy, but the whole concept is encased in a film of ignorance about the real issue here: Why are we entertaining human beings with mental health issues who we don’t give adequate treatment to, outside of our enjoyment?
There are common misconceptions that mask the very real effects of mental illnesses. Sadness is not just depression. Stress is not anxiety. Mood swings are not depression. Bad days and feelings of sadness are still uncomfortable, yet that doesn’t equate to having a mental illness. Not only that, but the frequency of the issue at hand is underestimated on the whole. According to the World Health Organization, 1 in 4 people in the WORLD, are affected by mental illness. This issue is prevalent throughout the globe, affecting a lot more people than opposition seems to believe.
Movies and television shows are inherently captivating and should be fun, but the media we’re digesting should be processed on a higher level, to some extent. When we as a society sit back and watch mental illness continue to become normalized in such a malicious way, yet fail to provide sufficient health care to others, we contradict the image we claim to project as a country. The National Alliance on Mental illness found that “Adults in the U.S. living with serious mental illness die on average 25 years earlier than others, largely due to treatable medical conditions.” If we continue to discount the legitimacy of a growing problem, we are neglecting people who need our help.
Look, Split may seem to be gripping and exciting in theory, but it is inadequate to manipulate a genuine ailment to produce mass media. It’s valuable to tell others stories, but the value is lost when the human beings affected, behind the scenes, are discounted in ways that obliterate the objective of human rights.
An informational visual that showcases the prevalent stigma associated with mental illness. Photo courtesy of Pinterest.