The Psychological Association of the Philippines stressed the role of film and other forms of media in painting the image of mental illness to the general public.
While no names were mentioned, their statement came following the recent controversies surrounding the poster of Darryl Yap‘s coming movie “Tililing.”
In a statement on Sunday, PAP noted that breaking the “stigma” in mental health is the challenge to local mass media, especially in the entertainment industry.
“In recent years, our understanding of how to improve community attitudes to mental illness has become more sophisticated. There is now awareness that we need long-term strategies to combat stigma by disengaging mental illness from associated fears and anxieties and by improving knowledge and attitudes,” the organization said.
“To start with these improvements, we have to investigate several ethical challenges. The pervasive content of entertainment film and television in particular, which are the most widespread of entertainment media, includes violence and other illegal behaviors; gratuitous sex; marginalization of various social groups, including the mentally ill; and a heavy emphasis on consumption—far from healthy media fare,” it added.
The organization also stated that such negative notions on mental health are due to mass media’s lack of research and communication with mental health professionals such as guidance counselors, doctors, psychiatrists.
“If the mass media can have a negative influence on the perception of mental illness, it is reasonable to expect that it should also be able to exert a positive influence to reduce stigma,” it said.
In line with this, PAP encouraged the film and media industry to be more responsible and ethical in their portrayal of mental health.
“The PAP encourages the film and media industry for responsible, accurate, and ethical communication and production of movies, documentaries, posters, and other-related output for mass consumption to reduce the current stigmatization of mental health. Let us promote and protect the mental health of Filipinos,” it said.
Yap, who has earned some controversies for his past works, was in hot water anew early this February after the poster of his film was called out by Liza Soberano, who is also a mental health advocate.
The movie “Tililing” by VIVA stars veteran actors and actresses Baron Geisler, Gina Pareño, and Candy Pangilinan, among others.
Soberano denounced the depiction of mentally ill people in the promotional material, which featured the actors with exaggerated facial expressions and their tongues stuck out.
“Mental health is NOT a joke. Stop the stigma,” she tweeted.
The director later responded to her through the official VinCentiments page.
“Sa iyo, Miss Liza Soberano, ang iyong pag-asa na sana’y makapagbigay liwanag ang aming pelikula sa pagpapalawak ng kaalaman sa pangkalusugang pangkaisipan ay hindi masasayang. HINDI KA NAMIN BIBIGUIN,” he said.
Aside from PAP, several mental health groups and advocates such as Mental Health Philippines, Youth for Mental Health Coalition Inc. and Anxiety and Depression Support Philippines have also commented against the movie poster.