The Glasgow Media Group, who carried out the study on behalf of the Department of Health looked into numerous popular dramas, soaps and comedies in a bid to find out how mental illness was represented on TV.
They found many references to mentally ill people were derogatory terms such as ”crackpot”, “basket case” or “a sad little psycho”.
In addition to this, 45 per cent of storyline’s involving a mentally ill character, found them posing a negative risk to other.
This year BBC One soap EastEnders has received much praise for a realistic portrayal of bipolar disorder in the character Stacey Slater, however even then the character eventually committed murder.
Paul Farmer, the chief executive of mental health charity Mind, has said that improvements over the past decade had been due to the willingness of scriptwriters and programme producers to involve people with personal experience of mental health problems while carrying out research.
Head researcher of the study, Greg Philo, said: “Great progress has been made in recent years, but we’ve some way to go before we see more of the everyday realities of living with a mental health problem properly represented and stereotypes like the axe-wielding maniac take a back seat.”
“I hope this report will encourage programme makers to follow these examples of good practice to create accurate, well-rounded characters that can improve perceptions of mental health.”