Ross Kemp and Help for Heroes call for fairer on-screen portrayals of veterans
Documentarian Ross Kemp and charity Help for Heroes have issued a call to the TV and film industry to stop inaccurate portrayals of military veterans.
The military charity has developed a set of media guidelines to make sure the reality of veteran mental health is accurately depicted on screen. The campaign was inspired by research that revealed that 87% of veterans think that their on-screen representation makes the public think they are dangerous.
Kemp, who plays a veteran with mental health issues Grant Mitchell in EastEnders, is fronting the campaign, which lands today to coincide with PTSD Awareness Day. “What you see on screen is only one tiny element of what illnesses like PTSD can look like, and not all veterans have mental health issues. I had no idea until I talked to veterans who have mental health conditions just how damaging the on-screen stereotypes are to them,” Kemp said.
According to Help for Heroes, TV and film consistently write storylines that portray veterans with poor mental health as angry, erratic and unable to fit into society. In fact, a YouGov survey showed the UK public associates negative words such as burn-out (59%), unbalanced (35%) and a danger to themselves or others (30%) with veterans with PTSD.
The guidelines provide six rules that will help TV and film execs to better signpost to viewers that they are showing dramatized versions of veteran mental health, and suggests using pre- and post-broadcast marketing to educate the public on the subject.
The campaign isn’t asking the media to remove dramatic plotlines, but instead to give better context when there is an exaggerated storyline. The charity is hoping though that the campaign will inspire the media to show other perspectives of a veteran’s mental health journey.