Addressing mental illness in our fiction should be positive.
Yet, if it’s done poorly, it can definitely do more harm than good. It can reinforce stereotypes, and cause offence.
And it’s complex. With certain controversial issues, we’ve actually come full circle.
For example, rape.
Everyone says that everyone says syndrome is, in my opinion, at work here. People regularly claim that stranger rape is what we hear about, not date rape.
As a survivor of the former, I would disagree. Stranger rape is more common than people realise, and I hear it discussed less frequently than date rape, nowadays.
And to constantly hear that it’s “just a stereotype” that people are often raped down alleyways – not sure that’s going to help much, if you’re one of the many people who is raped in an alleyway. Which, yes – does regularly occur, hence the fact that it became a “stereotype”, to begin with.
Ideally, we should address mental health issues in fiction, as much as possible, but we need to take care, when doing so.
We will cause offence. The subject is a controversial one. But we should aim to be as sensitive as possible, and hopefully, that way, we will do more good than harm.
My novel, Distorted Perceptions, does address mental health issues, in many ways. Real and raw – not the “pretty” version. I also hope to explore the subject further, in future fiction projects.