"Switched at Birth" portrays people with mental illness as violent

In Switched at Birth Season 3, Daphne tried to help Sharee and her mom, who suffers from bipolar disorder, and ended up having to save her boss's life when Sharee's mom became violent and attacked another person on the show with a knife. I was surprised and outraged at this portrayal of mental illness because Sharee's emotional journey felt dead on, especially the helplessness and the guilt, and given that the show provides a compassionate view of people with disabilities, such as accurately portraying the deaf community's many challenges.

Given television's abysmal track record when it comes to portraying mental illness, I was hoping--albeit in vain--that Switched at Birth would not fall into this abominable stereotype. 

However, Sharee's mother, the representative person on the show of people with mental illnesses, attacked another person on the show with a knife. This portrayal unequivocally reinforces the harmful stereotype that people living with mental illness are unstable and violent. Whereas it is clearly documented that people with mental illnesses are not perpetrators of violence, but are actually 10 times more likely to be the victims of violence compared to people without mental illness.

Less than 50% of people with mental illness receive treatment, and these portrayals of people with mental illness as violent prevent them from seeking treatment.


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