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iCarly Shows Episode With Mental Institution – Stigma Reinforced?

iCarly Mental Institution Stigma

Wow – lots of things to get to this week in the world of mental health. I appreciate your patience with me – I’ve been occupied with some family medical issues, but am ready to dive in to the world of family mental health for you.

The news and media have been brewing with new things!  I’ll be breaking them up into separate posts over the next few
days so you have a chance to digest them and add your comments.

For today, I want to react to an upcoming episode of iCarly that I saw advertised.  I have kids who sometimes watch iCarly and some of the Disney sitcom shows.  In general, most of these shows have exaggerated plot lines that are very overplayed for the sake of humor.  I’ve been OK with the majority of these, but one episode in particular is grabbing my attention – in a bad way.

**Edit – This is just my own opinion/reaction and it may or may not be as concerning to you.  Consider the ages of your own children and consider watching this episode with them if you think that would be appropriate. **

A new episode of iCarly highlights the female character Sam checking herself into a mental institution and is shown creating a painting.  In many of the transition images is a padded cell.  This padded cell image is shown repeatedly, along with some kind of attempt by Carly’s older brother to “break her out” by impersonating her mother.

I realize many people might think this is yet another harmless poke at the many aspects of our society.  Hospital episodes are common in sitcoms and dramas, and have been for years.  But a “mental institution” has a distinct disadvantage.

Despite many efforts in recent years to dispel the stigma surrounding mental health issues, it very much exists.  I don’t think this does anything positive for teens who truly need to be in psychiatric hospitals.  I’ve seen them in their darkest moments, and they look nothing like the casual off-the-cuff character portrayed in this episode.

I’ve only seen a preview – it airs this coming Saturday night.  My kids won’t be watching it, or at least not until I’ve seen it first.  If your kids have watched this show, please consider whether or not you want them to see this episode.

Things like this certainly make me reconsider what I let my kids watch and why.  Kids’ entertainment is always a moving target – it pays to pay attention, that’s for sure.  Don’t misunderstand me – humor is a great way to deal with stress and even mental health problems.  I just don’t know if this is appropriate for a young audience.

Here’s the best looking section of the Nickelodeon website I can find to report a concern. It’s really more about the website than the shows, but I’m going to send a concern here. If you have a concern, scroll to the bottom and click “Report a Concern.”

Readers, please respond and react to this portrayal of a mental institution.  What do you think?  You are also invited to come back and post your thought after the episode if you wish.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Dr. Pat

iCarly Shows Episode With Mental Institution – Stigma Reinforced?

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP

Erika Krull, MS, LMHP is a practicing licensed mental health counselor in Nebraska.

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APA Reference
Krull, E. (2011). iCarly Shows Episode With Mental Institution – Stigma Reinforced?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Aug 2011
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