With World Mental Health Day being on the 10th October, we decided to put together a list of TV shows that have accurately depicted mental health on screen. In the past, mental health conditions have been stigmatised, avoided or been depicted completely wrong in TV, but there seems to be a positive trend of these portrayals improving in recent years.
Mental health in TV shows is still sometimes wrong, but there are some good examples of TV getting things right. Read on to discover some of our favourite shows that feature mental health.
TV shows about mental health
It’s somewhat surprising that a show whose protagonist is a cartoon horse has been one of the most progressive depictions of mental health on screen in recent years, but Bojack Horseman accurately displays the nuances of depression, addiction, and self-destructive behaviour. While the show itself is still primarily a comedy, many of the show’s main characters are shown to be dealing with issues as the story progresses, and these issues are shown to have multiple layers that make them difficult to deal with.
Often TV shows mental health as something that is eventually ‘solved’ but although Bojack Horseman’s characters eventually recognise their issues as the show reaches its end, it does not offer an unrealistic solution to these problems.
The Queen’s Gambit
The Queen’s Gambit is another show that cleverly and accurately depicts mental health issues. What The Queen’s Gambit shows accurately is how addiction can be brought on by trauma, and how people use substances to deal with pain and stress. Beth, the show’s protagonist, becomes addicted to prescription medication partly to deal with trauma from an early age, and her problems with substances get worse when she is dealing with current stressful situations.
Another animated series that does well to display mental health conditions without using negative stereotypes is Big Mouth. Following a group of teenage friends, the show often personifies mental health conditions through characters such as the Depression Kitty. While this may not be accurate in a realistic sense, it helps to show just how depression and other conditions can affect people, and does well to not stigmatise those who suffer, offering a compassionate perspective.
This Way Up
This Way Up follows the life of Aine, an English language tutor living in London as she recovers from a breakdown. The show cleverly portrays depression as something in the background that occasionally flares up, which is the case for many people, as opposed to an all encompassing and character defining trait that many on screen depictions show. As well as the more subtle approach to mental health depictions, the show does well to bring humour to an often sensitive topic.
More like this with Ready Steady Cut
Looking for more on screen depictions of mental health? Check out our previous article on mental health in TV and film for more information and insights into portrayals of similar conditions. At Ready Steady Cut, we also give in-depth analysis and recaps of your favourite TV and films from all of the most popular streaming services. From Amazon Prime TV show reviews to Netflix film reviews, you know where to come first for the most up-to-date information on the latest releases.