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Depicting Mental Health

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Profile On:
The Beaver

This year, The Beaver was nominated for a PRISM Award in the category Feature Film Mental Health. The film follows Walter Black, played by Mel Gibson, a man who is experiencing severe symptoms of depression, including a lack of empathy for those around him, leading to the demise of his relationships with his wife and children until he begins using  a beaver puppet as an alter ego to communicate with them. When questioned about the puppet he claims, falsely, that it is a new tool recommended by his therapist.

As the film progresses, Walter appears to be better able to function successfully in daily life but becomes so reliant on his puppet to communicate that he does not know any other way to express himself. Walter realizes this dilemma and attempts to wean himself off the puppet but he remains unsuccessful until he physically removes the puppet, and his forearm.

This leads to him being sent to an inpatient mental health facility where he receives effective support through medication and therapy and recovers by learning to manage his symptoms effectively. While this film showcases an extreme case of depression, the key message is that recovery is possible when the appropriate services and support are utilized. Reaching out for help is a necessary step to taking control.

EIC congratulates The Beaver on its PRISM Award nomination! You can watch this year's PRISM Awards Showcase online and On-Demand. Click here for the full airing schedule!

What is Depression?

Depression involves consistent feelings of sadness that interfere with daily life, normal functioning, and cause pain for the affected person and those who care about him or her. Clinical depression is the overarching term used for the many different types of depression that can be diagnosed, such as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), postpartum depression, or major depressive disorder.

Symptoms of depression may include:
  • Prolonged sadness or unexplained crying spells 
  • Significant changes in appetite and/or sleep patterns 
  • Irritability, anger, worry, agitation, anxiety 
  • Pessimism, indifference 
  • Loss of energy, persistent lethargy 
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness 
  • Inability to concentrate, indecisiveness 
  • Inability to take pleasure in former interests, social withdrawal 
  • Unexplained aches and pains 
  • Recurring thoughts of death or suicide
Available Services
Support for depression is available and the feelings associated with it are manageable. Support groups, community mental health centers, and mental health care providers are just a few of the resources available to see individuals through this condition and help them to lead well lives.

Portions of this newsletter adapted from
PT Depression and Suicide Cover
Picture This: Depression & Suicide Prevention

Suggestions for Depicting DepressionFoster Care - Child
Depression is not just a case of the blues. It is a serious condition that can lead to a host of complications and consequences including suicide. Showcasing depression in characters and storylines is an important step to increase awareness about what the symptoms of depression are, what services and treatments are available, and what family and friends can do to be supportive. Consider these suggestions when exploring the topic of depression in your creative projects:

  • Substance abuse may often be associated with depression. Consider the relationships between substance abuse and mental illness and how you can incorporate these co-occuring disorders into your characters and storylines.
  • It is important to show how family members and friends are affected by their loved one's depression. Consider ways that you can depict the strains that can develop on these relationships as well as the supportive role that they can play in the treatment process.
  • Depression is by no means limited to adults. Think about showcasing your younger characters discussing depression in an honest, helpful way; provide opportunity for them to seek out expert advice by another character – a doctor, social worker or other mental health professional.
  • Depression affects everyone differently and every case is unique but they can all be effectively managed. When designing your characters consider ways that you can incorporate the services that are available to assist them in managing their depression and the process of recovery that the individual goes through when utilizing these resources properly.

 17 APA Call For Entries
The 17th Annual PRISM Awards Call for Entries is now open!

Click here to download the full submissions packet 

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EIC's FREE Technical Assistance Resource 
to the Creative Community!

To set up your own FREE First Draft Consultation with one of our experts contact Ashley Jupin: 
or 818-840-2016
 The 16th Annual PRISM 
Awards Showcase is available Online & On-Demand!
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Dr. Drew Pinsky hosts the
16th Annual PRISM Awards Showcase!

Click here for the full airing schedule and check out 

for updates!

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