"General Hospital" fans reported dismay about this ABC soap's offensive patient portrayal, insensitive treatment and language. I discussed this protest with the ABC TV Daytime Media Relations Director who explained the soap opera has "good vs evil" themes with the good finally winning. However, she did understand our concerns and agreed to inform and educate her producers and writers about accuracy and balance in the portrayals of characters dealing with mental illnesses. She will pass copies of NAMI’s ROAD TO RECOVERY brochures to her staff.
In understanding our concerns, the Media Relations Director did recall NAMI’s Award to "General Hospital" actor, Maurice Benard, for disclosing his struggle with bipolar disorder.
It took just one parent to start local protests against a large ad in The Gainesville Sun, (October 21, 2004), publicizing the Jaycees' "Insane Asylum" Haunted House. Proceeds for this Halloween event would benefit a mental illness treatment facility (Shands at Vista) PALS program, sponsored by The Sun newspaper. The immediate action taken, with like minded residents, describing this hurtful and demeaning offense to all Gainesville residents struggling with a mental illness reached and touched the responsible officials at The Sun, at the mental illness facility and the Jaycees.
They all learned about the federal anti-stigma and discrimination program that this "attraction perpetuates." They responded promptly to the many concerned citizens of Gainesville -- the "insane asylum" aspect of the Jaycees haunted house was to be eliminated at the event itself and in all the ads.
Way to go, Gainesville, Florida!!! Take note, Universal Orlando Theme Park, Florida!!!
There is no need to respond to form messages stating "we did not mean to offend" when no action is taken to balance the stigma situation. This is the standard response from customer relations for all complaints. Anyone who wishes to respond may reach them through the company Web site that has a "contact us" click button.
If you check our Stigma Alert Archives, through www.nami/stigma, you will find past Alerts you may have missed, including appreciation of the producers of the Reba McIntyre show for the fine portrayal of the character portraying Reba’s ex-husband dealing with his depression.
With our volume of messages, we cannot respond to each personally. However, we do read, evaluate and appreciate all reports. They are our important eyes and ears for busting the stigma.
Stella March, National Coordinator
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