Mental health has long been stigmatized and misunderstood, with people often too afraid to talk about their struggles for fear of being judged, ridiculed, or ostracized. Television has the power to influence our perceptions and beliefs about the world around us, and the way that mental health is depicted on screen can have a significant impact on how we view and approach these issues. Fortunately, with a shift toward greater acceptance and understanding of mental health issues finally stirring in society, there’s been a growing trend in recent years toward more nuanced and empathetic depictions of mental health struggles in television shows.
One of the most notable examples of this is “Bojack Horseman” on Netflix, which is praised for its frank and honest portrayal of mental illness. Despite being a comedic show, the series doesn’t shy away from depicting the harsh realities of Bojack’s struggles with depression, anxiety, and addiction.
Another example is the recently concluded “After Life”(also on Netflix), which starred Ricki Gervais as Tony Johnson. Having lost his wife to cancer, Tony withdrew into himself battling his emotions, depression, and suicidal thoughts. I don’t want to give away the show, but it was interesting to see the uncommon focus on how men deal with grief and loss.
Pixar has helped move the needle significantly with movies like “Turning Red” and “Inside Out” (emotional control, puberty),” Finding Nemo” (anxiety and trauma), and “Finding Dory” (ADHD), or the phenomenal short “Loop” (L3 autism).
These shows, and others like them, are helping to break down the stigma around mental health by portraying these issues in a compassionate and relatable way. They show that mental illness is not something to be ashamed of and that seeking help and support is a brave and positive step toward healing.
What are your thoughts on depictions of mental health conditions in society and entertainment? Let us know in the comments below.
Oh my gosh I love talking about how inclusive, in-depth and mature a lot of recent animation has been. Some of my favorite animation pieces are Steven Universe, which touches along relationship abuse, familial and past traumas, and depression, and Adventure Time, which has many adult themes in such a whimsical format. I also heard about the new Puss in Boots animation that touches upon anxiety attacks and the importance of grounding in that moment. All of these shows I have mentioned have great impact on their audience and also has an emphasis on having a good support system to help you along the way no matter how bad it gets. I think this is so important you are bringing these things to light on your website and I am excited to read what you have in store next!
I love all of these movies and shows and completely agree with everything you said! I recently saw the new Puss in Boots in the theaters and it was such a cute movie with such good representation of mental health issues. It showed the Puss having panic / anxiety attacks, and an ’emotional support dog’ helping him get through it. It was so beautiful to see and it made me happy to see that they portray it in children’s movies, since kids will grow up realizing that it’s ok.
Hi ! I love you how you brung so many examples to what you are saying. I guess I never felt the lack of movies addressing mental illnesses, but after reading your article, I realize that I really like when they do dress it! I have to say I just love what Pixar is doing with those movies and how it depicts real struggles, but softly enough for kids.