PIF partner Bupa UK and member Mind have teamed up to help young people and their parents access resources to improve their mental health.

Independent analysis of popular teen TV programmes commissioned by Bupa found mental health issues are regularly portrayed in a negative light, potentially deterring young people from coming forward with concerns.  

More than 30 hours of programming was examined.

Analysts found mental health descriptors including 'crazy', 'mad', 'psycho', 'depressed' and 'insane' were used, on average, twice an episode.

Nearly half of mentions found to be dismissive, humorous or mocking.

The study, which also consulted parents of teenage children, raised concerns that these pop culture influences could be fuelling negative perceptions among young people. 

Parents confirmed their teens regularly misuse terms such as 'crazy', 'mad' and 'mental', which are also the most frequently misused in teen television. 

Luke James, medical director for mental health at Bupa UK, said: “While featuring mental health in popular culture can build awareness, inaccurate representation could be creating negative stigmas and misconceptions of serious conditions.  

"Early diagnosis and access to treatment improves the long-term prognosis of mental health conditions, so it is essential young people are supported so they feel comfortable talking about their worries.”  

Struggling to separate fact from fiction

Half of parents believe their children’s knowledge of mental health mostly comes from popular culture such as social media, the internet, film and television.

One in seven (14%) are concerned their child struggles to separate fact from fiction when it comes to mental health in film and television. 

One in five parents (16%) suspect their children are hiding mental health symptoms due to embarrassment.

Research from Mind, shows one in seven young people now has a diagnosable mental health condition.

To help address the issue, the Bupa UK Foundation and Mind will be working together to offer young people and their families access to a new set of free and practical online information resources to help improve their mental health.

The aim is to reach 2.5 million young people and their families by the end of 2022.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “We know young people experiencing mental health problems for the first time may struggle to know where to go for support. 

"That’s why we are so thankful to Bupa for funding this information to equip young people with the tools they need to better look after their mental health.”

Resources for young people

Fully funded by the Bupa UK Foundation over three years, Mind’s information resources for children and young people are designed with and for children and young people aged 11-25 to help improve their mental health.

“At Bupa, we’ve received a high volume of calls from customers worried about their children’s mental health and we understand that making sense of it all can be tricky sometimes," said Luke. 

"That’s why we are supporting Mind to create a new set of resources in a language that young people and their families can really understand, to help them feel comfortable identifying conditions and ultimately help them to lead mentally healthy lives.”

Resources on topics such as understanding feelings, opening up and talking to your doctor are already available to everybody at www.mind.org.uk/childrenandyoungpeople and more will be developed over the course of the partnership.

Bupa recently launched its Family Mental Healthline for parents and carers.

It offers trained advisers and nurses who provide support and advice on how to talk openly about mental health and what to do next.