In the past, the subject of mental health and how it impacts millions of people worldwide was nearly never spoken of, especially not in the media. Unlike physical ailments, which can be explained, understood and sympathised over, the stigma around anxiety and depression made it more difficult for people to open up.
With the media creating awareness through TV shows that focus on telling fictional and true stories of real people, many are finally understanding the importance of mental health. Here are 3 mental health TV shows leading the conversation.
‘You are the Worst’ documents Gretchen and Jimmy’s often chaotic relationship – from the moment they meet till their wedding day. In Season 2, the show introduced its audience to Gretchen’s struggles with depression. She succumbed to a depressive episode, leaving Jimmy clueless about how to bring her out of it – a tale many living with those who struggle with their mental health know all too well. We see Gretchen largely unenthusiastic, laying around the house and staring aimlessly into nothing. Gretchen’s story hit home for many people across the globe as many people have at one time in their lives gone through it without speaking about it.
The show tells the story of a woman in love who moves across the country to West Covina, California, to win over her childhood crush, Josh. However, in the course of the series, Rebecca is diagnosed with bipolar disorder – a symptom of mental illness that is rarely addressed by the media. What is more refreshing to see is Rebecca’s next line of action – regularly attending therapy – after being diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Through this show, many suffering from one variety of mental illnesses or another will be more comfortable doing what is best for them by seeking professional help.
#WithChude is a mental health TV show that leverages the voice, networks and passions of its host, Chude Jideonwo to underline social issues, raise awareness about matters that affect our mental health and spark social movements. Focused on narratives that enable and strengthen the mind, heart and spirit, it has been at the frontline of movements around sexual abuse, depression, mental health, HIV/AIDs, inclusivity and diversity.
While some of these stories portrayed through movies and documentary-series are fictional, they are a reflection of what real people go through every day – silently or openly.
As the world slowly opens up more conversations on mental health challenges, the media – just as it did with minimising the stigma around AIDS – can continue to push the discussion by creating even more mental health TV shows that explore the importance of mental health and the signs of its disorders.