Hollywood portrayals of child and adolescent mental health treatment: implications for clinical practice

Child Adolesc Psychiatr Clin N Am. 2005 Jul;14(3):509-22, ix-x. doi: 10.1016/j.chc.2005.02.012.


This article examines the portrayals and myths of child and adolescent psychiatry relevant to the current practitioner. Although behavioral and emotional problems abound onscreen, the formal diagnosis of youth mental illness is uneven and rare. Common myths of brainwashing, incarceration, parent blame, parent supplantation, violence, and evil are explored, with current commercial examples of each. The impact of these portrayals on young patients, peers, parents, and the public at large are examined through the prevalence of different stereotypes across different genres more likely viewed by different ages. Positive and negative depictions of illness and treatment are identified for education and awareness, and the authors provide advice for using Hollywood films successfully as a helpful intervention in the mental health treatment of children and adolescents.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Art*
  • Child
  • Child Psychiatry
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / therapy*
  • Mental Health Services*
  • Motion Pictures*
  • Psychiatry / methods