Why We Need Mental Health Representation In Mainstream Media

Recently, I´ve been talking an awful lot about 13 Reasons Why and Dear Evan Hansen here on my blog and over on my social media. Both are very good examples of how mental health is finally being accepted into mainstream media and both are discussed a lot online. But whereas Dear Evan Hansen seems to live on a super hype right now - have you been on Tumblr lately?! - 13 Reasons Why has split the internet. Many people love it but some think it´s a bad representation of the issues it discusses. But here´s the thing: Whether you like it or not this well-produced representation of mental health issues in mainstream media is badly needed!

Mental illnesses and even just struggling with sub-clinical symptoms is becoming more and more common. Partly, this might be due to more awareness around this topic and people being more ready to actually seek help and therefore get diagnosed. However, I think the bigger reason is the way we as a society thing and live: We have certain expectations, we live in a very fast way, the internet constantly changes our perspective, and we constantly judge ourselves and others - and even how others might judge us. Honestly, I think we´ve all had moments were we felt like there was just too much pressure on our shoulders! The natural consequence often are mental disorders. They are coping mechanisms for your mind and your brain that, unfortunately, sometimes go wrong*.

*this is a very simplified way to talk about how mental illnesses develop but you get the idea

Growing up in this society is hard enough as is but then we have all of these taboo topics as well. How could you dare to talk about your imperfections, female sexuality or your struggles with mental health? It´s really a shame because these topics are just so, so important! What we now have in terms of mental health is a uneducated society in which many people - even young children - are struggling but can´t identify or talk about what they´re struggling with. Can you see all the ways in which this is wrong?!


So excuse me for not caring if you think 13 Reasons Why is badly made or that it´s dangerous to watch for teenagers. Firstly, nobody is forced to watch it and it´s the parents´ responsibility to decide which shows their children can and can´t watch. Secondly, it´s finally a popular tv show that deals with one of these super important topics. Yes, it´s graphic and definitely anxiety-inducing but we´re finally finding a way of talking about it! It getting renewed for a second season is one of the best things to happen because it shows the mainstream media that discussing mental health issues is worth it (you know... money wise). Similarly, having Dear Evan Hansen, a musical about a boy with social anxiety, on Broadway and almost sold out tells everyone that these topics are not fruitless but actually quite lucrative despite - or rather because - they´ve perviously been taboo topics!

I´m celebrating these developments so much because they´re opening up the discussion of mental health in our society. Maybe them being imperfect is even better because that way people feel entitled to say something - we do love being controversial, don´t we? Any representation of mental health issues also opens up the possibility for people who are struggling to finally identify with someone (even if they´re fictional) and to see that they´re not alone. Any mental illness is so much more of a burden when you feel like you´re alone and you have no idea what it is that you´re struggling with. So finally bringing the topic up in mainstream media can help a lot of people!


Of course mental health representation is always difficult and because it´s such a personal and individual experience it´s hard to portray everyone´s struggles perfectly. However, I think we´re getting there. We all should contribute as much as we can and support the small steps! If we show mainstream media that mental health is actually an interesting topic and that we want to see it more they´ll eventually adapt to our wishes! Hopefully, this would then benefit our whole society as mental health becomes a very common topic to discuss and something that is natural to struggle with. Wouldn´t that be dreamy?

What´s your opinion on the mainstream media representation of mental health issues? Do you think there should be more or rather less? How could the representation be improved?

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