Generation Next

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Generation Next. Mental Health Depictions f or Storytellers . Introducing Generation Next…. We encourage you to join Generation Next and be a part of the “ART of making a difference.”. Generation Next Features : - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Generation NextMental Health Depictions for Storytellers Hello and Welcome to the Entertainment Industries Councils Generation Next program on accurate mental health depictions for storytellers. Im Dr. Kirwan Rockefeller, Media/Entertainment Psychology consultant and formerly EICs Director of Education. Currently, Im Director of Special Projects at the University of California, Irvine. For over 30 years I have specialized in a variety of mind/body/medicine and psychology topics including health, social and media psychology. I am an Assistant Professor at Saybrook University in San Francisco, published author and a long-standing member of the American Psychological Association and the California Psychological Association. Last, for 5 years I was Editor of The California Psychologist, the peer-review academic journal for the California Psychological Associations 5,000+ members.

For those of you who are not aware of the Entertainment Industries Council, EIC is a non-profit corporation that, since 1983, has collaborated with the entertainment community and the news media to promote accuracy in health and social issues. EICs mission includes: encouraging the entertainment industry to more effectively address and accurately depict major health and social issues, serve as a bridge for information between the industry, public policy members and the scientific community, and promote and recognize the accomplishments of the industry. EICs utilizes a non-judgmental process respecting creative integrity, recognizes the industry is by one piece of the societal puzzle and that members of the industry make a variety of positive contributions addressing accurate depictions. For more information, please visit our website,

1Introducing Generation NextGeneration Next Features:

Three $4000 Cash Prizes, one in Film & Television, one in Journalism and one in Social Media

Recognition at the PRISM Awards ceremony in April 2014

Mentoring sessions with entertainment industry professionals and mental health experts

Winner and semifinalist productions aired on, a global internet television network

A collaborative program with Active Minds, a mental health organization led by college students

Curricular resources for faculty and studentsWe encourage you to join Generation Next and be a part of the ART of making a difference.

We are here today to introduce you to one of our newest programs, Generation Next TEAM Up (Tools for Entertainment And Media). We encourage you to join our efforts by supporting your students in submitting a proposal for a short film or television pilot (fiction or non-fiction, 10 minutes in total length) in the accurate depiction of people living with mental health challenges and mental health recovery. We will be awarding three $4,000 cash prizes in three areas: film/television, journalism and social media. The winners will be recognized at the 18th annual Prism Awards, held at the Beverly Hills Hotel in April 2014. 2 Screenwriters, directors, and producers have significant potential to influence public understanding and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

It Begins With StoryStories are how we think. They are how we make meaning of life. Call them schemas, scripts, cognitive maps, mental models, metaphors, or narratives. Stories are how we understand our place in the world, create our identities, and define and teach social values.(Dr. Pamela Rutledge, Director, Media Psychology Research Center)

Stories are the creative conversion of life itself into a more powerful, clearer, more meaningful experience. They are the currency of human contact.Robert McKee, Author & Professor

As we tap into the psychology of characters, we begin to realize how complex human beings really are. The greatest battles characters fight are with themselves.

The purpose of this presentation is not to dictate how a writer or director should portray a character living with a mental illness, but rather, to give insight into authentic and ultimately positive portrayals. The entertainment industry has a significant potential through accurate and compelling characters and storylines to influence public understanding and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. By contrast, mental health is not simply the absence of mental disorders, but is defined as a state of well-being in which every individuals realizes his or her unique potential, can cope with the normal stressors of life and work, and contribute the quality of lives of others and their community.

Since time began, people have told stories as a way of understanding who we are, why were here and to identify where were going. From cave men and women gazing up at the night sky, to sitting at Grandmas knee, stories archetypal narratives and myths (and by myths I mean stories that explain cultural beliefs, and not falsehoods) we learn about the human condition, our hopes and dreams. Because it all begins with the story.

And as my colleague Dr. Pam Rutledge says above, Stories .... are how we make meaning of life. We psychologists call them schemas or cognitive maps and they define and teach societal values.

As we tap into the psychology of characters, we begin to understand what motivates us, what propels us forward, our fears, strengths, loves and aspirations. To use a well known phrase, to begin to answer: From whence have I come, why am I here, and wither go I?


Exploring mental health issues offers the writer an opportunity to delve into and understand the complex inner world of someone living with a mental illness. Authentic stories and compelling characters can influence and encourage those who need help to seek help.

Insert clip file #1It Begins With StoryAs faculty, you know that exploring mental health issues offers a writer an incredible opportunity to delve into the complex inner worlds of someone living with a mental illness.

Having worked as a script consultant and media psychologist, I have yet to meet a creative individual who didnt want their work to be accurate and plausible. Because the audience knows the truth.

In the old industry of show, dont tell we have assembled a selection of clips that we suggest you show to your students. These clips come from Silver Lining Playbook, Lars and the Real Girl, The Soloist, and the Academy Award nominated short documentary Poster Girl.

If you would like to receive a flash drive with these embedded clips, please visit our website, and let us know. 4

Helping the audience better understand mental illness can reduce barriers to treatment and recovery.Colleges across the country are reporting large increases in the prevalence and severity of mental health conditions experienced by students.(NAMI, College Students Speak)

Why mental health matters?In the past year:

1 out of 4 college students experienced some form of mental illness Over 30% of U.S. college students felt so depressed they were unable to function

Half of them felt overwhelming anxiety

64% of students who need help do not seek treatment

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students To place the issue of mental illness into context, please consider that 1 out of 4 college students experiences some form of mental illness each year.

Half of all college aged students feel overwhelming anxiety each year due to academic, financial and parental pressures, and 64% of students who need help do not seek treatment.

And weve all heard too many stories about suicide on Americas university and college campuses. 5

Stigma and discrimination often prevent us from talking about mental health issues except when a crisis occurs.

For example:

Someone harming or killing him or herself.

Someone randomly shooting innocent people or committing other violent acts.

In reality:

People living with mental illness are responsible for no more than 5% of violent acts in America.

People living with mental illness are more often the victims, not perpetrators, of violence.

What depictions come to mind when we talk about mental illness?Stigma and discrimination often prevent us from talking about mental health issues except when a crisis occurs.

Yet, the reality is that mental illness is not black and white. Mental illness is a continuum with varying degrees of severity and more than 50% of all American adults have experienced themselves, or know someone who has experienced mental health challenges. 690% of people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental illness and/or substance abuse disorder at the time of their death, which is just one piece of a very complex picture.

Many of these lives can be saved through early intervention.

What depictions come to mind when we talk about mental illness?Whenever possible, we encourage the depiction of characters with a mental illness who are nonviolent.Whenever possible, when you are teaching your students, we encourage you to consider the depiction of characters with a mental illness who are nonviolent.

Many lives can be saved through early intervention and saving lives is what its all about. People can identify challenges early on and develop the tools needed to live a full and meaningful life. 7Individuals with the same diagnosis may experience symptoms differently.

Since most writing is a personal exploration into new territory, it demands some research to make sure that the character and context make sense and ring true. (Linda Seger, Creating Unforgettable Characters)

Mental illness can be defined as psycholo