Friday, August 12, 2011

iCarly Makes a Joke out of Mental Illness

This week, Susan Resko of CABF blogged about the new episode of iCarly airing this Saturday night on Nickelodeon. If you haven’t seen iCarly, it’s a tv show aimed at young, preteen kids. This particular episode stigmatizes adolescent psychiatric hospitalization. In an effort to stop this kind of negative message reaching our next generation, Susan has encouraged us to write to Viacom to ask that they pull this episode. Here’s the letter I’ve sent to both Viacom and also the producer of iCarly. If you too want to voice your opinion, check out the links below, as well as a link to Susan’s blog. Even if the episode has aired, it’s still worth it to voice your opinion because if you’re familiar with children’s programming, you’ll know that they love to air reruns, over and over and OVER again!

Here’s my letter:

I’m writing to you about an upcoming episode of iCarly called “I Lost My Mind”. It’s the episode in which Sam checks herself into a mental hospital for kissing a boy she doesn’t like and the other kids try and break her free from it.

I have 3 young boys who watch this show. As a family, we have always enjoyed it. My oldest, at 10 years old, has a mental illness. He has had psychotic episodes where he sees monsters and depressive episodes where he wants to kill himself. The likelihood of my son being admitted into a mental hospital is extremely high in the coming years ahead.

This upcoming episode of iCarly will have a negative affect on my son and all children who live with mental illness. First by mocking the institution which may one day save his life, next by making a joke out of my son’s mental illness and finally for exposing him to society’s negative view of mental illness. If he relates a mental hospital to something that is to be made fun of, that comes with a negative stigma that even iCarly pokes fun at, he will be more resistant to the vital care he may need someday to save his life. As parents, we are trying our best to teach him while he’s young that he has value and that his illness does not make him a bad person, but your programming tears apart all we are working towards.

You may think... “Well don’t have your son watch iCarly”. I wish it was that simple. Many of his classmates watch this show. So even if my son doesn’t see the episode, his peers will and this will continue the negative stigma that he already fights against everyday.

Please reconsider airing this episode and be sensitive to the children that suffer everyday with mental illness. Our kids need love and support, not mockery.

—Mama Bear

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Susan’s Blog Post about iCarly:

Contact Viacom:

Contact the Producer of iCarly:


  1. i know icarly can be just mean and could affect kids personal lives i wish they stopped that episode but sadly they aired it :(

  2. Bummer, I made sure my kids turned the network off today so I wasn't sure of the outcome. Maybe they will reconsider for reruns of the episode. It's interesting because I came across an article where iCarly apologized for making fun of homeless people in a previous episode and pulled it after it aired and made an apology. They probably love all the attention, even if some of it is negative.

    So will they make jokes of children with cancer next?

  3. Hmmm, I do not feel offended by the episode even though I have been committed a couple of times. Maybe it is because I am older and not as innocent as your son or other mentally ill children who watch the show. I would hate for anything they watch to influence their ability to enter an institution when they are in dire need of it.

  4. I wish there were TV shows that helped to bring understanding for those with mental illness. I've been a huge fan of the show Parenthood that has done a great job of showing a family with a child that has autism. I believe this type of programming brings compassion and understanding for those living with autism.

    My son needs this kind of compassion and understanding. He has lost his two best friends because the parents decided that they didn't want to have their child play with my son because he has a mental illness. This decision was not based on anything my son had done, it was based only on the knowledge that he has an illness. Any children's programming that makes fun of mental illness to a younger audience will only contribute to the stigma, helping to educate the next generation to follow the footsteps of their judgmental parents.

    I can't change the minds of adults, but wouldn't it be nice to create programming that’s sensitive to the suffering of children and their families?

    If anything, if they don't have anything nice to say, could they not say anything at all?

  5. That's disgusting. I hope they pull the episode and get some compassion. Disfrickingusting.

  6. Well never mind, I just saw they aired it. Sick.

  7. I completely agree, and just started an online petition requesting Nick to have a PSA explaining teen depression at the end of the episode. Please sign!

  8. Agree, Thanks for the links- I came across your site looking for a place to send a complaint. I happened to see the show & was completely offended. My child has battled mental illness as well & I found the stereotypes portrayed on this episode highly offensive - particularly because this show is geared towards children.

  9. I am so glad you sent this letter, thank you so much for sharing it! I found this episode to be very offensive as well, very distasteful and inappropriate. I was shocked just seeing the previews for it. A show this popular with children and so influential should be much more sensitive and responsible.

  10. Hi Petalcove-Welcome to my blog! I couldn't agree more!

  11. They still air episodes and about the Hobo thing they still use it. they even still air the episodes. It a show for kids get over it.

  12. Well, its 2 years later, but I still do not think they pulled this episode..... I just thought I,d comment on this cuz recently, 2 offensive "mental patient" Halloween costumes were pulled from the shelves for making fun of psychiatric disorders. I saw this episode in question; I did not think much of it back then, but now I can see how offensive this can be. A mental institution is never something that should be made fun of; what children saw in this episode is NOT what you would see in a real institution. Those places are for people who need serious help, not someone who thinks he is from the future, or someone who just kissed someone they thought they hate. I f those 2 costumes were pulled right away, why couldn't this episode. It is far more offensive than the 2 costumes.

    1. I couldn't agree more, I don't know why the episode wasn't pulled and why they feel justified in mocking those with mental illness to our youth. Makes me sad.