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 Depicting Bipolar Disorder
Stigma and Discrimination Reduction

Depicting Bipolar Disorder
Stigma and Discrimination Reduction

The Reality of 
Mental Illness


• We all get depressed from time to time, but for some these feelings cannot be overcome without professional help and may be due to past trauma, chemical imbalances, or drug abuse.

• People with mental illness come from all walks of life and cannot be determined based on gender, socioeconomic standing, or race.

• There are no magic pills that will treat mental illness and although prescription medications often play a key role, psychotherapy including cognitive behavioral therapy and family therapy are almost always included in an effective treatment plan.

Profile On: Homeland

 Claire Danes
Claire Danes stars as Carrie Mathison in Homeland
This year, the first season of Showtime's series Homeland was among those nominated for a PRISM Award in the category of multi-episode storyline: mental health. This suspenseful series focuses on main character Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes, who is an FBI agent living with bipolar disorder. The season follows Mathison (Danes) as she hides her severe diagnosis from everyone around her for fear of losing her job. When she stops her treatment regimen and her disorder is discovered, she is fired; but her partner never loses faith and it is the symptoms of her bipolar disorder that allow her to solve the mystery and save the country from an impending terrorist plot.  

Homeland, among other series, has taken a new look at mental illness and those who live with these conditions. By making them lead characters who are smart, witty, and whose diagnoses can sometimes be just the thing to solve a crisis or provide a new perspective that is necessary to bring down the bad guy, they are shedding new light on this issue. These new types of depictions are not only interesting to watch but they provide conversation starters and put a new face to mental illness that is not often explored: the hero.


Depictions like the one in Homeland not only bring mental health and mental illness to the forefront, but they also make audience members more comfortable with discussing and exploring these topics in their own lives. Increasing our comfort level with mental health is the first step to encouraging help seeking behavior and treatment advocacy.


EIC commends Homeland on their PRISM Award nomination! You can check out this year’s PRISM Awards Showcase on FX and our other simulcast airing partners, click here for the full airing and On-Demand schedule!

Looking for More?
EIC has developed new resource materials to help you create the most realistic and compelling stories possible!

Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about mental health.

Click here for EIC's new style guide concerning coverage and depictions of mental health.

Depiction Suggestions
Click here for tips on incorporating mental health into your character and storyline development.
PT Bipolar disorder cover

Portions of this newsletter were adapted from
Picture This: Bipolar Disorder

We encourage you to contact our First Draft Services for technical assistance and to connect one-on-one with our experts!


Suggestions for Depicting Bipolar Disorder 

Stigma, for the most part, is created and perpetuated through a lack of knowledge. The best way to combat stigma is through education and exposure to these topics. Consider these suggestions to position your depictions of bipolar disorder as a way to combat stigma and increase understanding within your audience:


  • Remember to showcase the many sides of bipolar disorder by confronting common misconceptions head-on. For example, during a manic state individuals with bipolar disorder are often more trusting and adventurous than they would normally be. This vulnerability makes them a prime victim for crime and rarely the cause.
  • Stigma often promotes feelings of isolation among those suffering from mental illness, preventing them from seeking out help. Consider ways that you can showcase your characters receiving encouragement from those around them that ultimately helps them to find the help they need.
  • Bipolar disorder is treatable. Think about ways that you can explore not only the doctor visits and prescriptions that may be associated with treatment for a mental illness, but also the success stories and how treatment helped your character regain control of their life.


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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: 
or 818-840-2016

The 16th Annual PRISM 
Awards Showcase
 is available Online &

Dr. Drew PRISM Photo

Click here for the full airing schedule and check out 

for updates!

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EIC presents this information with support from
The Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63).

CalMHSA Logo            Prop. 63 Logo

The California Mental Health Services Authority (CalMHSA) is an organization of county governments working to improve mental health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. CalMHSA administers programs funded by the Mental Health Services Act (Prop. 63) on a statewide, regional, and local basis.

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