Can TV Shows Help With Teen Mental Health?

Media affects how we perceive the world. According to social sciences, television is very influential in helping teens develop ideas about the world. It also has a significant influence on shaping their thinking.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one out of three teenagers experiences an anxiety disorder. Approximately one out of five teens suffer from at least one mental health disorder. 

If TV shows successfully provide a clear understanding of mental illnesses, it could help represent the struggle that comes with such issues. Such shows can inspire the youth to educate themselves further on the importance of mental health.

How Do TV Shows Create Awareness About Mental Health? 

More writers and producers have now realized that television is a visual medium through which they can achieve a lot in almost any direction. The teenage world is surrounded by stigma. To combat that, it was essential to include it in trending coming-of-age shows.

Previously, we saw many TV shows that alienated and dramatized mental health. While currently, many of them successfully portray sensitive issues.

More and more storylines have characters who fight their battles with depression, suicidal tendencies, PTSD, and so much more.

Fortunately, negative portrayals of mental health where mentally ill characters ended up killing someone is now outdated. Films and shows are now bent on providing a positive image and educating the viewers.

Impact of TV-Shows on Teens

TV shows with a portrayal of mental illnesses encourage teenagers to talk about their mental health problems. Their favorite characters go to therapy, and it helps to promote conversations about treatment and its importance.

Recent shows do not alienate disorders anymore. For example, for decades, OCD was dramatized by the media. 

It was portrayed under the limitations of germaphobia. It led to the belief that OCD had such restrictions.

However, recently some TV shows tackle complicated disorders. These shows cover everything from PTSD to Bipolar Disorder to the process of healing.

Consequently, these stories gain the viewers’ empathy, and the representation of mental health becomes more positive.

People with similar mental health issues feel inclusive when they can relate to the characters. Their illnesses are validated, and they feel seen.

Teenagers can understand new problems and struggles and empathize with people around them.

A positive and vivid portrayal also combats the stigma around mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.

Credible yet engaging TV shows successfully provide ideas for coping. They give possible strength to a viewer. Some shows revolve around coping mechanisms and teach the importance of healthier options and teen mental health activities. 

List of TV Shows That Accurately Portray Mental Health Issues

If you want to watch a TV show that can start the conversation around mental health, here are some top choices:

BoJack Horseman

This American adult animated program by Netflix resonates with the audience because it covers a vast area of mental illnesses very realistically. Bojack Horseman represents the difficulties of living with depression, drug abuse, alcoholism, and self-destructive behavior.

This show does not offer solutions to illnesses, neither does it demonize them. It explores the root causes of the illness and shows the road to recovery.

At the end of the show, Bojack is not entirely healed; but instead, he has found comfort in slow recovery. Such realistic aspects of living with mental health make this show’s portrayal jarringly real.

13 Reasons Why

13 Reasons Why raised the concern of suicide among teenagers. This show has alternating themes between repercussions, causes, and effects. It describes and shows fundamentally different views of characters and their actions with consequences under the name of “the snowball effect.” 

The series accurately convey the concept that suicide is not dependent on a single cause.

It helps the viewers learn that their actions have enormous consequences, and they have to be cautious of their words.

Big Little Lies 

Big Little Lies by HBO skillfully tackles PTSD, self-blame, and guilt. It shows domestic violence and the effects of trauma. 

This American drama television series depicts what it truly is like to wrestle emotions, flash blacks, and intrusive thoughts. It covers the idea that the journey of healing is slow. It isn’t always pleasant and takes time. 

Normal People 

Normal People, a critically acclaimed series, portrays the realities of loss, loneliness, and disengagement from people. It handles the importance of men’s mental health and subtly creates awareness about consent.

Furthermore, it shows that depression is not always messy rooms, smudged mascaras, or bloodshot eyes. It teaches that people with mental illnesses function and continue to perform their day-to-day tasks; therefore, it is essential to look after the people around us. 

Positive Mental Health Activities for Teens

Mental health affects our emotional and social well-being. It alters our routine and lifestyle. 

It also determines how we tackle everyday issues. That is why it is essential to talk about your feelings to friends, family, or professionals. 

Anxiety is the most common disorder that affects teenagers. That is why you should know the essential tips for anxiety and stress management.

Some of the following mental health activities for teens and adults can help.

  • Yoga reduces stress and anxiety and aids in physical and mental well-being
  • Calming breathing exercises help to lower heart rate 
  • Activities like running, walking, or swimming help to relax your mind
  • Peer support is a great group activity to share experiences 

However, these activities are not a cure for mental illnesses, but they help maintain good mental health.

You can get psychological therapies for more support. 


A human’s most pivotal years are teenage years. At this age, you enhance your social skills, understand and form most opinions about the world around you. You also establish a personality.

It is an age where life-altering traumas and anything you watch can influence you greatly. You must use any platform, such as TV shows to help yourself learn more about the problems around you and envelop your heart with empathy. 

There is nothing negative about seeking help or educating yourself on mental health issues. Creating awareness is the only solution to break the stigma around mental health.

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