Expert Voices

Hollywood Makes Mental Health an A-List Cause (Op-Ed)

A woman covers her face with her hands.
Depression is linked with faster aging, according to a new study. (Image credit: Depression photo via Shutterstock)

Brian Dyak is president, CEO and co-founder of the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC) and executive producer/writer for the PRISM Awards. Dyak contributed this article to Live Science's Expert Voices: Op-Ed & Insights.

Vincent Van Gogh stated, most succinctly, that we are not on the earth solely for our own happiness, we are here to realize great things for humanity.

The ways television, film and other media sources portray mental illness, substance use and suicide prevention play a vital role in reducing the discrimination that often accompanies people's preconceived notions about addiction and mental illness. Often, those stories elevate the conversation around mental health, substance use prevention, treatment and recovery through subtle ways. The drama, mystery, romance and comedy of stories can sneak up on a viewer, or appear as direct messages.

In some cases, identifiable characters can inspire and even save lives. In a given year, approximately one-quarter of adults will be diagnosed with one or more mental conditions. Researchers say only about 13 percent of these adults are likely to receive treatment. It is important to open the dialogue that help is available, treatment works and recovery is possible. Through entertainment programming, society can expand awareness about these (often difficult) topics and support those who seek help, just as we support the characters with whom people in need identify.

The Entertainment Industries Council Inc. (EIC) annually presents, in collaboration with FX Network and other leading cable networks, the PRISM Awards™, a tribute to the Hollywood creative community. It is a unique ceremony and nationally televised awards showcase recognizing the accurate depiction of substance use and mental illness: prevention, treatment and recovery in film, television, interactive, music, DVD and comic-book entertainment.

Established in 1997, the PRISM Awards honor productions from "Grey's Anatomy" to "Silver Linings Playbook" that are not only powerfully entertaining, but authentically show substance abuse, addiction, treatment and recovery, as well as a spectrum of mental health concerns.

If you're a topical expert — researcher, business leader, author or innovator — and would like to contribute an op-ed piece, email us here.

In recent years, EIC has seen a significant and steady increase in the number of storylines that involve mental health and substance use, which allows for more people and wider audiences to see the positive power and influence of the entertainment industry in full effect. In the PRISM Awards, audiences also learn about scientific breakthroughs that are influencing treatment and care and see personal commentary from stars such as William H. Macy, Jennifer Morrison, Katey Sagal and Dr. Drew Pinsky.

The PRISM Awards encourages creators to make the most of their rights to free creative expression, while at the same time showing the reality of critical health issues. The 17th Annual PRISM Awards, hosted by Pinsky, includes co-hosts Orlando Jones and Giuliana Rancic. The program runs for 24 weeks in the On Demand platforms of FX Networks., mtvU, ReelzChannel, AT&T Uverse, Retirement Living, Amazon, local broadcast outlets and, and it's entering its final two-week run for this season.

The video below is a special platform for Live Science readers to view the 17th Annual PRISM Showcase ahead of the 18th Annual PRISM Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on April 22. We encourage you to raise your awareness of mental wellness and broaden your understanding of recovery — change the way you watch entertainment and the way you view your community by engaging in the art of making a difference!

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. This version of the article was originally published on Live Science.