Health and Illness in the Media

Location

Harkins 300, Providence College

Event Website

http://www.providence.edu/hpm/Pages/Conference.aspx

Start Date

31-3-2012 10:00 AM

End Date

31-3-2012 11:15 AM

Description

The discussion of mental health issues in the media significantly shapes public perceptions, most notably in negative portrayals that contribute to the stereotyping of mental health patients. Perhaps surprisingly, comics and graphic novels are forms of media that have potential to mitigate such stigma, despite earlier criticism of mental health stereotypes propagated in some comics. This is reflected in a recent trend of comics treating mental health issues in more sympathetic ways. This paper discusses three American comics from the last decade, examining depictions of post-traumatic stress disorder in Garry Trudeau's comic strip, Doonesbury, around 2005-2006, schizophrenia in Nate Powell's graphic novel, Swallow Me Whole (2008), and depression in a short Captain America comic (2011). An analysis of these examples reveals that comics in the United States have a unique and promising place in mental health education. Comics can reach an at-risk target audience, convey their messages in a visual and non-textual way, use narrative to present important issues in an accessible manner, use humor to enable the discussion of taboo topics, and, in some cases, use popular characters to raise the profile of a certain issue. They also have the potential to serve directly as therapy for mental health patients, a trend currently more visible in the United Kingdom and Canada. The comics and graphic novels discussed show, perhaps a larger trend of the media moving away from stereotyping and towards a greater visibility and understanding of mental health issues.

 
Mar 31st, 10:00 AM Mar 31st, 11:15 AM

The Drawn-Out Battle Against Stigma: Mental Health in Modern American Comics and Graphic Novels

Harkins 300, Providence College

The discussion of mental health issues in the media significantly shapes public perceptions, most notably in negative portrayals that contribute to the stereotyping of mental health patients. Perhaps surprisingly, comics and graphic novels are forms of media that have potential to mitigate such stigma, despite earlier criticism of mental health stereotypes propagated in some comics. This is reflected in a recent trend of comics treating mental health issues in more sympathetic ways. This paper discusses three American comics from the last decade, examining depictions of post-traumatic stress disorder in Garry Trudeau's comic strip, Doonesbury, around 2005-2006, schizophrenia in Nate Powell's graphic novel, Swallow Me Whole (2008), and depression in a short Captain America comic (2011). An analysis of these examples reveals that comics in the United States have a unique and promising place in mental health education. Comics can reach an at-risk target audience, convey their messages in a visual and non-textual way, use narrative to present important issues in an accessible manner, use humor to enable the discussion of taboo topics, and, in some cases, use popular characters to raise the profile of a certain issue. They also have the potential to serve directly as therapy for mental health patients, a trend currently more visible in the United Kingdom and Canada. The comics and graphic novels discussed show, perhaps a larger trend of the media moving away from stereotyping and towards a greater visibility and understanding of mental health issues.

http://digitalcommons.providence.edu/auchs/2012/panela1/1