Why Netflix’s ‘The Bird Box’ Severely Increases the Stigma of Mental Illness

I was so excited to watch Netflix’s new original series, “The Bird Box” with Sandra Bullock. The premise surrounds the idea that a mysterious force begins to destroy humanity–if you see this entity, which reveals your biggest fear, you die. To survive people must cover their eyes or be blindfolded while searching for help. The movie follows Sandra Bullock and her two children on a dangerous journey towards finding a safe place. Not even halfway through the movie, it is revealed that people with mental illness, or the “criminally insane” are unaffected by these entities.

The movie makes it look like the mentally ill are one and the same as the demonic virus that is causing millions of people to kill themselves. The movie alludes to the idea that not only would people who are “mentally insane” not help others, but they would go one step further to turn against humans and join forces with the evil entity. It is ridiculous and severely increases the stigma of mental illness that so many advocates spend every day fighting against.

I am not a blogger who enjoys going on rants but after viewing “The Bird Box” I felt I was obligated as a person living with bipolar disorder to speak out. I am completely offended by this movie for its negative portrayal of people living with a mental illness. The main myths that the film exaggerates are: People with a mental illness are violent, people with a mental illness are demonic, people with a mental illness have no morals, etc.

Fact: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent, and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a severe mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population.

Mental Health Myths and Facts MentalHealth.gov

In 2019, a period where we should be working towards reducing stigma, movies like “The Bird Box” do a complete injustice to the community and instills a deep fear in viewers of people living with mental illness.

We are not characters to be portrayed in scary movies for views. The movie, “The Bird Box” shows the inability of creators to think outside of the box.

4 Replies to “Why Netflix’s ‘The Bird Box’ Severely Increases the Stigma of Mental Illness”

  1. I haven’t watched the movie but my daughter has and I am surprised she didn’t mention this aspect of it. She is extremely defensive of our community because I, her mother, am also bipolar. Hmmm. Maybe she didn’t tell me so it didn’t upset me. She is a passionate teenager who often stands up in the face of stigmata and points out the falsified depiction of us.


      1. Will do! And hello. I enjoy reading your posts about our community and I thank you for voicing your opinion. I discuss mental health as well but with additional topics.

        I will be sure to let you know what she says. ❤


  2. I am saddened to report that she wasn’t as aware of the role the mentally ill played in this movie but when I told her what your report said she began to pick apart the movie where she remembered. And then my Ma chimed in saying that yes it does portray the mentally ill but in her opinion, they weren’t evil yet didn’t have a choice but to go along with the evilness. Perhaps being portrayed as weak minded. My daughter said her adrenaline was peaked because of the blindfolding and she couldn’t believe she didn’t pick up on the depiction. I then read this post to both of them and they both agreed with your review. I will not watch it but I am proud to have shared with my loved ones so that they can defend our community alongside you. My anger problem may be flared up if I were to watch it so it is best I do not. Thanks again for this article because after we finished our discussion about it my daughter went on to discuss her struggles with anxiety. We have finally narrowed it down to performance anxiety after years of research. We choose not to have her medicated because of the addictive qualities but are happy to have found a way of coping that has improved her symptoms tremendously. Keep doing what you are doing!


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