To make sure you receive future emails,
please add to your address book or safe list.
Trouble viewing this email? Click Here.

 EMCI Banner
 Spotlight On Banner
Depicting Mental Health
What's in a name?

Brian NEW HeadshotA Message from EIC's President, CEO & Co-Founder, Brian Dyak

Welcome to EIC’s 2013 series on Mental Health, Wellness, and Recovery! This is the first of our monthly newsletter series that will introduce you to new and innovative ways to consider depicting topics related to mental health in your characters and storylines. These suggestions are written with the goal of encouraging more honest, authentic, and de-stigmatizing portrayals of mental health and mental illness.

This first issue focuses on what happens when an individual knows that something just isn’t right, they seek out a name for it, and look for help. You may first envision that classic scene of the therapist or other professional offering their opinion after reviewing someone’s file. While diagnosis is most often a necessary scene in any story involving mental health, maybe it is time to re-evaluate it. It's time to stop labeling characters simply as Bipolar or Schizophrenic and start exploring what they are really going through.

Mental health challenges affect each individual differently and when a character displays this truth, the audience is both able to better understand and possibly relate to what the character is going through. Diagnoses do not tell the whole story; the suggestions and information offered in this newsletter clarify that there is more to understanding mental health and mental illness than just naming a condition.

 EIC's Mental Health Resources

Visit for
more information!

Team Up Logo_RGB
 In this issue...
  • A Message from Brian Dyak
  • Doctor's Note
  • Suggestions for Depicting Mental Health
  • Profile On: Homeland
Doctor's Note
What to consider when depicting diagnosis:

Our current psychiatric diagnoses are just names cataloging conditions. They don’t include an understanding of the underlying disease process. In psychiatry, a diagnosis is made on currently observed symptoms, which often leads to multiple, or differing diagnoses over time. The diagnostic criteria used by mental health professionals, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), simply describes factors that help us to distinguish one condition from another and from ‘normal,’ not every symptom people commonly experience. There are a lot of conditions that most people would consider mental illness but they do not have their own diagnostic category – like being heartbroken when one’s child dies, post-partum depression, or being the victim of child abuse. For stories to be ‘real’ you need to include symptoms and experiences that are not in the DSM.

You also should include how the characters react to and try to make sense of their symptoms: Do they believe their voices are real or not? Do they turn to their voices for advice or argue with them? Do they think of them as part of their own unconscious or the work of demons? Do they intentionally stop their medications to be able to hear what their voices are talking about or because they’re lonely without them? Do they hide their voices from other people because they’re afraid of being called crazy, or locked up, or fired?
--Mark Ragins, MD

 Suggestions for Depicting Mental Health

Suicide Prevention GroupWhen depicting an individual experiencing a mental health challenge or seeking out support, it is important to remember their individuality. How symptoms affect them personally and how they deal with them on a daily basis are just two ways to delve deeper into these rich storylines.

Consider these suggestions when exploring mental health:
  • When possible, use nuanced language to separate the disease from the individual. For example, find ways to show that a character is living with a mental health challenge like bipolar disorder, rather than using labeling language like “he’s bipolar.” What words do they use to describe themselves? What words do mental health professionals use? Families? How do these different words reveal different perspectives and beliefs? How do they create conflict and resistence?
  • Each individual experiences mental health challenges differently. Instead of focusing solely on the diagnosis, consider ways to focus more on symptom placement and your character’s experiences. How does a mental health condition affect their daily life, personal interactions, and what are their coping strategies?
  • Think of ways that you can showcase help-seeking behavior as a way that characters can not only learn more about themselves with guidance from a mental health professional, social worker, or counselor but also as an opportunity to develop new skills that will assist them on their path to recovery.
  • Where appropriate do some research. Meet people living with mental illnesses, watch videos, or read what they’ve written about their own experiences. Accurate, personal details make a character come alive.

Profile On:
Homeland Logo

This year the PRISM Award-winning series Homeland was recognized once again at the Golden Globes. This honored series follows CIA Agent Carrie Mathison (played by Claire Danes) as she deals with protecting national security, finding terrorists and living with bipolar disorder. What makes this character truly unique and a wonderful example of mental health depiction is that there is so much more to her than just the diagnosis. Mathison’s story feels real because the audience is able to experience her professional and personal successes as well as her challenges. They are able to understand her as an individual who has so much more going on than simply her diagnosed mental illness. Depictions like Homeland allow the audience to relate to something they may have once considered unrelatable, and with that we can start conversations, break down barriers, and rebuild ideas about what it means to be living with a mental health challenge.

Consider ways that you too can more broadly define your character, what aspects of their life are relatable to your audience? How can these details help your audience to more fully understand your storyline?

 First Draft Logo

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 818-861-7782
Save the Date!
The 17th Annual PRISM Awards are set to take place on April 25, 2013 at the Beverly Hills Hotel
Dr Drew and PRISM Cropped

Dr. Drew Pinsky hosts the
16th Annual PRISM Awards Showcase!
The 16th Annual PRISM Awards Showcase is available online at
Click here to view!

Click here for excerpts from this year's show and check out 

for updates!

  EIC Box Logo

Visit EIC Online!

For More EIC Updates Visit our Social Networking Sites!

Facebook Logo    Pinterest Logo    Twitter Logo

EIC East
1856 Old Reston Ave. | Suite 215 | Reston | VA | 20190

EIC West  
111 N. First Street  |  Suite 301 | Burbank | CA| 91502


Cvent - Web-based Software Solutions