Mental Health in Mainstream Media

Why are people so fascinated with the idea of a fixer-upper? From the bad boy trope, the injured soul or even the awkward antisocial; all these seem to become a rom-com, young adult and romance staple.

Mental health seems to add more depth and flavour to a person or a character in a book or TV show. In some of the most popular romance novels like 50 Shades Of Grey, the protagonist Christian Grey is a possessive manipulative business owner who abuses his monetary power and his power over Anastasia.

Even young adult novels like 13 Reasons Why which later on also get adapted to a Netflix show, contain very graphic scenes of taking one’s own life. Despite people arguing that shows like that are meant to educate and help people to look out for the signs, it also increased the levels of teen suicide by 28.9% according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

It always seems as though people are always captivated by charismatic characters who are filled with flaws and even major red flags. These story tropes then translate to real-life just for people to be disillusioned. In movies and books, these issues with mental health are described in rose-tinted glasses. Where the power of love trumps all and the darkness and pain. But people fail to remember that reality is not like books or movies. There are struggles and hardships that may not be appealing for readers but people face them every day.

Through the media, we consume we have to always be mindful not to put misleading messages on a pedestal. Mental health is not something to add depth to your personality or to your characters. It’s a struggle for people every day where they don’t get to pick and choose their symptoms or how their mental illness may show or affect their loved ones.

Therefore, it’s always best to let a professional help someone facing such a serious issue as mental health, instead of being an armchair therapist. Support your loved ones through this very hard process of dealing with their mental illness.

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