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Media Portrayals of Mental Illness and the Third-Person Effect
Unformatted Document Text:  M c K e e v e r - P a g e | 2 on the third-person effect, and advance the current understandings about the elements that may lead individuals to overestimate the degree of media effects on self and others. Background The continued toll of mental illness on global health has been recognized as one of the chief international concerns, due to the under-treatment of the illnesses, by agencies such as the World Health Organization. 7 In the United States alone, 14.8 million individuals suffer from depression, which is one of the most common forms of mental illness, and depression-related fatalities are the third leading cause of death among people 15 to 24 years of age and the 11th leading cause of death overall, accounting for 33,300 deaths annually. 8 Mental illness has also been associated with substantial employment and economic costs. Researchers estimate that in the U.S., depression is responsible for annual expenses totaling $53 billion, with $33 billion of this total due to work impairment and it has been identified as the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for people ages 15-44. 9 Furthermore, as numerous studies have shown, stigma is one of the primary factors influencing public attitudes toward sufferers of psychiatric illnesses such as major depression and schizophrenia. 10 Stigmatization, in particular, has repeatedly been shown to be a prominent barrier to medical treatment, leading many individuals suffering from mental illness to avoid seeking the medical care necessary for their condition. 11 Given the prevalence of mental health-related diseases, this trend has many in the mental health field concerned. On College Campuses This avoidance of treatment seeking has been an area of primary concern as it relates to college students. An unsettling trend found in recent studies is the lack of treatment in students affected by some form of mental illness, even when affected students are aware of their need for treatment. 12 One potential contributor to this ongoing under-treatment, as several researchers

Authors: McKeever, Robert.
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M c K e e v e r   -   P a g e  | 
 
on the third-person effect, and advance the current understandings about the elements that may 
lead individuals to overestimate the degree of media effects on self and others. 
Background 
The continued toll of mental illness on global health has been recognized as one of the 
chief international concerns, due to the under-treatment of the illnesses, by agencies such as the 
World Health Organization.
7
 In the United States alone, 14.8 million individuals suffer from 
depression, which is one of the most common forms of mental illness, and depression-related 
fatalities are the third leading cause of death among people 15 to 24 years of age and the 11th 
leading cause of death overall, accounting for 33,300 deaths annually.
8
 Mental illness has also 
been associated with substantial employment and economic costs. Researchers estimate that in 
the U.S., depression is responsible for annual expenses totaling $53 billion, with $33 billion of 
this total due to work impairment and it has been identified as the leading cause of disability in 
the U.S. for people ages 15-44.
9
 Furthermore, as numerous studies have shown, stigma is one of 
the primary factors influencing public attitudes toward sufferers of psychiatric illnesses such as 
major depression and schizophrenia.
10
 Stigmatization, in particular, has repeatedly been shown to 
be a prominent barrier to medical treatment, leading many individuals suffering from mental 
illness to avoid seeking the medical care necessary for their condition.
11
 Given the prevalence of 
mental health-related diseases, this trend has many in the mental health field concerned.  
On College Campuses 
This avoidance of treatment seeking has been an area of primary concern as it relates to 
college students. An unsettling trend found in recent studies is the lack of treatment in students 
affected by some form of mental illness, even when affected students are aware of their need for 
treatment.
12
 One potential contributor to this ongoing under-treatment, as several researchers 


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