5 TV Series/Films that Accurately Portray Mental Health Issues
TV shows and movies are widely loved for their ability to transport us out of our reality for a bit. But at the same time, film and TV can be a powerful tool for. pressing deeper into our experiences. They illuminate real issues that aren’t frequently discussed in our daily lives, such as sexual health topics, issues of gender identity and mental illness. For more information around mental health issues and gender dysphoria, visit Mind Diagnostics (https://www.mind-diagnostics.org/blog/gender-dysphoria).
Individuals living with mental illness often feel like others cannot possibly understand what they are going through. Seeing their experiences normalized on the screen can help them to feel seen and validated, and allows access to gaining deeper insight.
Let’s take a look at 5 TV series/films that depict mental health issues in an authentic way, and have the potential to meaningfully connect with viewers on their own journeys.
In this quirky Netflix series, Mickey and Gus navigate the ups and downs of building a romantic relationship in the midst of their personal challenges. Over the course of three seasons, we see Mickey come to terms with her addiction to alcohol, drugs and sex/love, as well as taking steps to seek support and move towards healthy functioning. As Gus encourages Mickey in her recovery, he has to acknowledge his own codependent tendencies and learn to tune into his emotional interior.
This 2012 movie offers a complex look into the world of eating disorders. It debunks myths that these conditions occur primarily as a result of body ideals portrayed in the media. In the film, protagonist Olivia experiences the traumatic loss of her twin brother which triggers her dangerous spiral into anorexia nervosa. The ‘eating disorder voice’ is personified by her brother, feeding her lies about her worth, which begins to control her thoughts and behaviors. Feed provides an intimate look into the internal struggle of individuals living with an eating disorder. It also provides hope for what recovery can look like after fighting against the eating disorder voice and seeking help.
- Perks of Being a Wallflower
Based on the book of the same name, this coming-of-age film features Charlie as he enters his first year of high school. He attempts to make friends and fit in while living with symptoms of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Naturally quiet and introverted, Charlie takes on a passive role and observes the world through the eyes of his friends and family members. As he begins to uncover and address his past trauma, he is able to step more fully into his healing and life.
- 6 Balloons
This Netflix film accurately showcases the raw ugliness of drug addiction. It follows Katie as she discovers her brother Seth has relapsed in his heroin addiction and she drives him through the city to find a detox center. 6 Balloons does not shy away from displaying the destructive impact of addiction, not only for the individual but on their loved ones as well.
- Normal People
This 12-episode series chronicles Connell and Marianne, who first meet in secondary school in a small town in Ireland and later reconnect as undergraduate students. Normal People offers an authentic look into the very real issues many young adults face. We see Marianne struggle with low self-esteem, trapped in a cycle of toxic relationships, while Connell falls into severe depression and seeks counseling for the first time. While Marianne and Connell’s complex relationship shifts and takes on different forms over time, they always occupy a central role in each other’s lives.
These are just 5 TV shows/films that illuminate the complexity and ongoing challenges of living with a mental health condition. For people living with mental illness, it can be transformational to relate to a character on the screen, and realize that they are not alone in the challenges they are facing.
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