Portrayal of Mental Health in Media

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“Depression (major depressive disorder) is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act.”

To many, the term depression is either a light-hearted substitute for sadness or simply a taboo. To most, admitting one has depression is asking to be put in a mental house. To the ones that are affected, depression creates perpetual sadness which might even become the cause of their death. Depression has taken over the lives of many, though most fail to reveal this. Signs of depression include extreme lack of social interaction, significant weight loss, extreme cases of Insomnia, self-harm, uncontrolled emotions, recurrent suicidal thoughts, etc. It is believed that the present social atmosphere is a huge factor as it often termed as ‘the plague of the 21st century’.

Scientifically, depression can be mapped with the change of various neurons and bio-chemical substances that are released in our system, namely: Serotonin, Dopamine and Norepinephrine. Any imbalance in their level can affect our emotions adversely. Stress and tension can also contribute a lot to this. At times, they can also be hereditary or genetic. Other factors for depression includes, Abuse, serious illness, conflicts, loss, substance abuse, etc.

It is often very hard to implement change in a society, to make people believe that their previous beliefs are not entirely right and are to be changed. To do so, a great power of influence is required. Such power can be obtained through media. To quote Malcolm X “Media is the most powerful entity on earth… Because they control the minds of the masses.” So how can this power be put to good use?

The current mainstream media has taken an initiative in bringing about awareness in the society. Various movies, book and television series have portrayed the intensity of growing depression among youth. For instance; ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’ is a book by Jay Asher that revolves around the reasons why Hannah Baker (A teenager) committed suicide. It emphasizes on how people turned a blind eye to her silent pleas and how that ultimately cost an innocent life. This book was later turned into a hit Netflix series that gained a lot of attention upon its release. Not only was it critically acclaimed, it also helped in giving courage to youngsters around the world to speak up.

Movies such as Anomalisa, World’s greatest dad, cake, Sylvia, Little Miss Sunshine, and various other movies have cast light upon depression and the different forms that it manifests in to different human beings. The Indian film industry also features movies that focus on these issues.

YouTube, being one of the most powerful social media platform has not failed short of showing its side of depression. Famous YouTubers like Kiera Rose, Daniel Howell, Jacksgap, Savannah Brown, John Green, Connor Franta and Lilly Singh etc have shared their personal struggle against depression and social anxiety. They have taken the liberty of portraying the raw side of depression that are often wrongly romanticized in the mainstream media. Lily Singh, a YouTuber turned Business Woman has written down her journey of starting out a video to make others laugh (despite fighting off depression herself) in her book ‘How to be a Bawse’. YouTube also carries various channels that are created just for the purpose of sharing experiences on various form of depression.

Internet also offers other platforms like blogs, websites and social media networking sites that allows healthy interactions and provides information centres. Online therapy sessions and websites have been created to support forums where the affected can reach out. Various celebrities have taken action in ensuring the lifeline supports through social media. For instance, ‘The Live Love Laugh Foundation’ is a mental health initiative taken up by the famous Bollywood actress, Deepika Padukone that illustrates the symptoms and form of depression to create awareness among the Indian youth.

Mental health is a very serious issue that must be tended to at the right time. The world cannot afford to lose another Chester Bennington or another Avicii. Depression is real and it is about time we removed the stigma against it. Spread the word, tame the taboo and lend a helping hand to anyone who is hurting.

Categories: Health, World