The Stigma of Mental Disorders in the Media

How can we use different forms of literature to eliminate stigmas against mental illness and gender-based trauma caused by harmful portrayals throughout the media and pop culture?

By examining different mental disorders in four novels that focus on mental illness, this project examines how contemporary authors use novels to protest against stereotypes of mental illness. The authors use literature to accurately portray symptoms and to bring attention to triggers for mental illness, which helps the audience gain a clearer understanding of how these illnesses function. Further, this project studies the statements the authors make regarding their intent, which shows that the authors are motivated by a desire to explain why these stigmas and stereotypes exist, since many portrayals in the entertainment industry do more harm than good.

The four novels in this study focus on different mental disorders, which will be important in understanding the stigma. Michael Ford’s Suicide Notes focuses on the trauma homosexuals experience and problems with suicidal thoughts. Sam J. Miller’s The Art of Starving is about the dangerous aspects of eating disorders. Katherine Glasgow’s Girl in Pieces focuses on gender-based trauma with the main character feeling suicidal after experiencing rape. Neal Shusterman’s Challenger Deep dives into the complex mind of an individual experiencing schizophrenia.

This research concludes that harmful portrayals of mental disorders harm individuals who experience these illnesses in real life, and these novels can promote a greater understanding of and compassion for people struggling with mental illness."



Work Title The Stigma of Mental Disorders in the Media
Open Access
  1. Joel Burkholder
  2. Ariel Marie Barbera
  1. Penn State York Exhibition of Undergraduate Research and Creative Accomplishments, Arts and Liberal Sciences
  2. Arts and Liberal Sciences
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Poster
Publication Date April 9, 2021
Deposited April 09, 2021




Work History

Version 1

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  • Added Creator Ariel Marie Barbera
  • Added R_3phuV4P2brudF55~Mental_Illness_Poster.pdf
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