The name of a new movie launched online in an effort to counteract popular stereotypes about mental health services and those who receive them, “Schizo,” may not seem like the brightest way of removing such terms from the collective consciousness. But the film, along with a sister flick with the seemingly innocent name of “Kid’s Party,” is aimed at educating the public about the difficulties faced by those diagnosed with a mental health condition like schizophrenia, and the decidedly upfront and strong way in which the knowledge is presented is likely to make a significant impact. The short movies, produced by mental health advocacy group Time to Change, have been released for use with other current media pieces as trailers and short clips, hoping to take advantage of the modern trend in viral videos to reach a wide Internet audience.
In the clip “Schizo,” an atmosphere with distinct borrowings from classic horror films culminates in the opening of a creaky door, on the other side of which stands Stuart, a character far removed from the realm of frightening figures, who explains that while he has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, he is not violent or out to get anybody. Rather, he relates, he appreciates the support of his friends and family, who help him to experience a greater quality of life on a day to day basis. In “Kid’s Party,” Stuart appears again, this time entertaining shrieking children with a large spider made of balloons ant a party. The clip is headlined with the text “Schizophrenic Man Terrorizes Kid’s Party,” a notion that is likely to create a certain stereotype in viewers’ minds, able to be surprised and investigated upon seeing the “normal” nature of Stuart and his activity.
The films may go a long way towards helping to dispel false beliefs and misapprehensions about psychotherapy and those who seek treatment. As a startling percentage of people hold beliefs that those with schizophrenia are violent and that people with mental illness are crazy and/or weak, such efforts in fostering honest and realistic ideas and opinions are especially important.
© Copyright 2009 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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