Mental Health on Screen | ZwavelStream Clinic | Mental Wellness
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Mental Health on the Screen


We’ve been saying it for decades – awareness, diversity, representation – and over the past two years it seems TV and film finally started paying attention. And we’re here for it.

The growing exposure of mental illness on screen has led to the slow but sure chipping away at all the stigma surrounding it. With shows like The Good Doctor (autism), Jessica Jones (PTSD), and This is Us (anxiety), we are finally able to see relatable people dealing with different types of mental health problems. What’s more, the writers are doing a great job in that the characters and stories affected by mental illness are handled sensitively and responsibly.

For the first time in cinematic history, we now have mental illness portrayed on screen more than ever before, and in ways that are relatable, increase awareness, and banish stigmas.

Getting it right

The pressure is ample when it comes to filmmakers portraying mental illness in a good way. A misstep could have a serious negative impact on viewers and similarly, when people with mental health issues are depicted in a responsible and honest light, the positive influence can be huge and far-reaching.

Carrie Mathison’s bipolar disorder in Homeland, Gretchen Cutler’s depression in You’re the Worst, and Hannah Horvath’s OCD in Girls are all shining examples of TV characters going through life with mental health issues. In the same vein, movies showing realistic portrayal of mental illness include A Beautiful Mind (schizophrenia), The Skeleton Twins (depression), and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (trauma).

Although some aspects are heightened for dramatic effect, we still get the idea that mental illness impacts their lives, but at the same time, it isn’t all they’re about. This is a good message to be sending to everyone in the same situation. That you can manage a mental health condition AND still lead productive, quality lives. Or, as some of these examples show, what could happen when mental health conditions go untreated.

The power of the silver screen

Thankfully, with the onset of TV on demand and online streaming, the power of media is finally being used for good instead of evil. More people than ever before now have access to more viewing material than ever before. And with media production companies making strides to accurately portray mental illness on screen, this automatically becomes a device to educate and bring awareness. In this way, they hold the power to ultimately change so many lives with the stories they tell.


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