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  Entertainment Industry Encourages Media Priorities in Support of Veterans and Civilians Alike
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Reboot
By Brian Dyak, President and CEO, EIC

Complacency about the world as it is can stifle the creative process.  Numerous Hollywood writers, producers, directors, and executives are staring complacency down as television shows and movies grab viewers with what very well could be real life scenarios -- fictional stories that stir emotions.  Ninety reviewers (representing the entertainment industry, and content experts including mental health and substance abuse specialists and people with lived experiences) just came together at 20th Century Fox Studios to make determinations about content, content and more content addressing brain injury, mental illness, suicide prevention, substance use, treatment and recovery. They reviewed hundreds of submissions to the EIC’s 19th Annual PRISM Awards slated to be presented later this year.  Complacency was buried by robust debate about accuracy and entertainment value.  The debate also revealed the need to keep the pressure on to represent critical issues that prompt help-seeking behavior.

9-11Campaigns like Joining Forces (with leadership from First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden), Wounded Warriors and Got Your 6, and productions like American Sniper, Hurt Locker, Grey’s Anatomy, Blue Bloods and Castle, elevate the conversation around these mental wellness issues. This resource reboot is a tool that catalyzes entertainment and news media creators to inspire vast audiences.

Real life events are “fair fodder” for story telling. Most everyone in some capacity knows of or has been touched by traumatic events.  According to Dr. Brett T. Litz, Veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq have unique risk for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Dr. Brett T. Litz is principal investigator on various research projects funded by the Department of Defense and the NIMH.  He devotes his career to evaluating the mental health outcomes associated with military deployments. Litz’s research was included in EIC’s PICTURE THIS Resource Publication for entertainment writers and journalists -- a project with the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  This publication addresses PTSD as related to veterans, children, civilians, terrorism, natural disasters and more. 

Suggestions for depicting PTSD:

  • Think about ways to clearly show the signs and symptoms that have led your character to be diagnosed with PTSD. This will help the audience to understand what PTSD is and what it is not.
  • PTSD affects different people in different ways. Try exploring the condition with a few different characters who have all experienced the same traumatic event. For example, two people may be robbed at gunpoint; and one of them may develop a slight fear of crowds while the other might suffer more severely and become completely reclusive.
  • Through your characters, attempt to showcase the consequences of unaddressed PTSD on the person living with it as well as their family and the difference that taking steps towards treatment can make.

PTSD and Veterans

  • It is important to remember that not all Veterans are living with PTSD and not all those diagnosed with PTSD are Veterans. There are, however, certain pre-deployment risk factors that can make someone more susceptible to developing PTSD during the constant stress and traumatic situations that can arise during deployment. These are: possible genetic pre-disposition, childhood abuse, and chronic family stress.
  • Pro-Active Post Deployment Considerations: attempt to encourage community involvement, open discussion, family cohesiveness, success stories that focus on employment and veteran contributions to society.

Journalists and entertainment writers have the power to tell real stories Hugthat combat complacency in a way that help-seeking behavior becomes the norm.  I encourage you to use this guide as a springboard to additional research. Compelling stories, fictional and real, stare complacency down and open up the opportunity for better understanding.  EIC is available 24/7 on your deadline to connect you with subject matter experts on these topics to reinforce your content development.

Learn More!
Portions of this newsletter adapted from

ptsd cover

Picture This: PTSD

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