Around exam time, students are obviously stressed. Stress is normal. I actually believe it’s healthy. I know students try to make light of their stress, and it’s probably a good way to take a breath amidst the stress of school. One thing that caught my attention recently though was through a speech one of my fellow classmates did, which was based around how people view mental illness thanks to the media. This got me asking myself, “have I ever romanticized or made light of a mental illness?”
I think the first time I realized how often we brush off signs of mental illness was when I saw a tweet around exam time that displayed the photo of Britney Spears shaving her head, with the caption “exams got me as stressed as Britney”. I will admit, I was guilty of laughing along with this, and maybe even retweeting it. But when I really thought about it, this was one moment where I did not consider how often the media displays mental illnesses as humorous or not as serious issues.
After hearing my classmates speech, I finally began to understand how the media impacts our views of mental illness. Think of the countless celebrities that have entered rehab, and how the media displayed their actions. Not one headline suggested helping these people, and rarely did it suggest mental illness as an impact at all. No wonder we sometimes confuse seeking attention with an internal mental battle. What we see in the media is what we believe, whether or not we think that is true. In our daily lives we come across more advertisements and media displays than ever before, and it shapes how we think.
Not only do I hope people can have an eye opening moment like I did through my classmate’s speech, but I hope people actually critically think about what they see. I know that since having my eyes opened to a new view on the media and how it shapes our views on mental illness, I have reconsidered retweeting any “stressed like Britney” tweets. I hope you do the same.