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BJPsych Bull. 2017 August; 41(4): 237.
PMCID: PMC5537583

To educate or to entertain?

Droning techno music, muted colours, hazy lenses, panning camera angles and extreme close-ups. These are features I expect in films such as The Shining or Silence of the Lambs, not a television documentary about schizophrenia. Why did I go mad? (BBC2 Horizon 2 May 2017) follows four individuals with a diagnosis and I cannot help but feel the BBC missed the point. Surely, the responsibility of the media today is to accurately represent mental illness, deepen understanding and reduce stigma. It was as if the four people were protagonists in their own horror movies. I was left questioning which I feared more, the psychosis or the person, and neither are helpful responses when it comes to changing our perceptions of the illness. I am disappointed in the BBC.

It is important to understand where stigma arises in order to challenge beliefs and attitudes, but what hope is there when documentaries care more about entertaining than educating?

Articles from BJPsych Bulletin are provided here courtesy of Royal College of Psychiatrists