I came across an episode of MTV’s Disater Date recently that featured an actor pretending to have OCD in an attempt to annoy and irritate the unwitting participant. It involved touching, counting, and arranging all as a joke to make people laugh. As a real life OCD sufferer, I instantly knew that I could not pass up this opportunity to call attention to the inappropriateness and unintentional discrimination. I often use humor in my descriptions and explanations of my experiences with OCD, however I assure you that the illness is very real, very challenging, and still woefully misunderstood.
My response to this situation will be an attempt to capture the attention of MTV executives, programmers, viewership, and anyone whose ear I can bend. Below is a copy of my letter to as many persons involved with the network for whom I could find contact information. I am asking for the network to use their influence to help educate young adults about the realities of living with, seeking treatment for, and not discriminating against mental illness.
But I cannot do this alone! I need your help. Please help by forwarding this post, this letter, this information to as many people as you can possibly fathom. Please contact the network with a plea to remove programming offensive to the mentally ill and to create a campaign of awareness and education. Please email. Please call. Please write. Please forward. Everyone can help. The louder we are, the better our chances of being heard. I am thankful everyday for the support and strength you give me through this blog. I am asking you now to please join me in further educating our communities and eradicating ignorance and fear regarding mental illness.
I appreciate you and love you all more than I could ever say. Thank you.
To Whom it May Concern:
Recently while searching the VOD selections that MTV offers I came across the show “Disaster Date.” The episode titles were things like “Hyper Drummer” “Hot Mess” “Fart Boy” and the one that caught my attention “OCD.” The episode consisted of an actor pretending to have OCD in order to embarrass, annoy and humiliate the unsuspecting young woman. He counted, he touched, he ordered objects, all while an entire room full of adults watched and laughed. It deeply affected me. Why? Because my name is Angela Cavett and I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
As a long-time sufferer of this very serious mental illness, I was very disappointed, hurt, embarrassed, annoyed, and subsequently moved to call this outrageous inequity to your attention. Mental illness is not a choice. It is a painful and difficult struggle for those of us who are afflicted. I struggle everyday with my symptoms and behaviors. I also spend each day fighting to raise awareness and understanding in order to encourage other young people to seek help. By choosing to air this program you relegated our very real disability to nothing more than bad behavior or comic relief. Your own website describes the “disaster dates” as “weirdos” and “losers.” I can assure you that we are neither weirdos or losers. We are real people who want to live our lives. We are just tasked with handling different challenges than most. In fact, persons with mental illness including OCD fall under the protection of the Disability Discrimination Act.
I believe that this programming was a result of unawareness rather than malice. I understand that no disrespect was likely intended. So, as a network that has been groundbreaking in educating young people in tolerance, political activism, sexual health and safety, and global responsibility, I along with the support of the community of mental illness sufferers, ask you to be a leader in raising awareness for this misunderstood disability. We ask for this particular episode to be removed. We also ask for a public awareness campaign to be made in regards to mental health. We want young people to know that they are not alone, they are not outcasts, they are not hopeless, and they can get the help they need. We want groups such as the Anxiety Disorders Association of America and the National Institute of Mental Health to be brought to the attention of those seeking help.
Thank you for being a network that opens doors and educates people. It is my sincere hope that OCD and mental illness awareness will soon find a place among your already highly successful awareness campaigns.
Judy McGrath, Chairman and CEO MTV Network
New York, NY 1003
Assistant to Judy McGrath: Kristen Mullarkey
Tony DiSanto, President of Programming for MTV
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
VIACOM CONTACTS: Viacom owns MTV
Carl Folta, Executive Vice President, Corporate Communications
Jeremy Zweig, Vice President of Corporate Communications
Stephanie Berman, Senior Director (Stephanie covers Disaster Date)
MTV Message boards and Blogs
National Institue of Mental Health
NIMH, Science Writing, Press, and Dissemination Branch
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 8184 MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663
Anxiety Disorders Association of America
8730 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20910
Contact your government representaives
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