Although learning is a long process, once you’ve understood the basics of why mental health awareness is needed and how you can have healthy conversations, media can help you dive in deeper. Relatable portrayal of mental health in pop culture, movies, songs and books have become more common. We have come a long way. Although we have had many misleading depictions, with more awareness, we have come to a space where we are having more realistic content to consume that throws light on some remarkable historical events as well as our current scenario with mental well-being.  If you want to know some in-depth ways mental health has been represented in pop culture, here's a good read.

We also have made a list select movies, series, and books. It could serve as a started kit for you if you want to write about mental health, or simply gain knowledge:

Books:

  • The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath (story of a talented, extremely self critical girl who is way ahead of her time and hence finds it difficult to fit in, suffers a mental breakdown because of societal pressures, her symptoms are treated, not the root of the problem. During her time mental health never had a holistic approach, based loosely on Plath)

  • Sepia Leaves - Amandeep Sandhu (from the eyes of a young child we learn how it is to live in a dysfunctional family and in constant fear with a schizophrenic mother, how he makes peace with it)

  • The Yellow Wallpaper - Charlotte Perkins Gilman ( Very metaphorical story highlighting the importance of women's mental health, the feeling of being trapped in a misogynistic society)

  • The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison ( internalized racism, body shaming, distorted definition of beauty equalling it to love and acceptance)

  • Catcher in the Rye - J.D.Salinger (Holden seems to be suffering from many disorders and refers to himself as 'madman' Several other characters also have issues pertaining to mental health. Highlights the growth of psychiatry after WW2)

  • Surfacing- Margaret Atwood (Touches on health risks associated with hormonal contraception and psychological mechanisms used to control women. Through the character there is also portrayal of how repression becomes a major component of mental illness that tampers with everyday life)

Movies:

  • As good as it gets - Protagonist is an anti social novelist who struggles to make connections with people because of his OCD. Highlights really well how difficult it is to live with OCD.

  • Inside Out - Animated movie illustrates all the emotions we feel through a young girl's mind and how these emotions work together to help her get through turmoil. This can be especially good to help children understand emotions better.

  • Rain Man - Story of a man with autism and his brother and how they get to know and understand, live with the condition as they meet for the first time.

  • Soul- Animated movie, in the likes of 'Inside Out' touches cosmic realms to discover answers to some important questions of life, such as 'how to find your spark'. The messaging is so simple and the creative animation makes it easier to understand depression, and finding one's purpose.

TV series:

  • Supernatural - This show portraying brothers who hunt demons, ghosts and monsters got mental illness quite right in their representation of issues like depression and anxiety.

  • American Horror Story Asylum & Freak Show - Two of the seasons in this unusual anthology series are based on very real people and events. Asylum focuses on cruel treatment of the patients in the asylum, doctors with beliefs distorted by religion and their hunger for power and looks at many aspects of the history of mental illness that were rooted in darkness. Freak Show is based on real historical figures from circus sideshows and the like. The way these colourful characters are shown speak volumes about the hostile living conditions and discrimination people who were considered ‘freaks’had to face. Conjoined twins, the boy with ‘Lobster Claw’ syndrome, the bearded lady and the man labelled as ‘pinhead’ who born with microcephaly, a rare condition wherein the head grows at a normal rate but the body doesn’t are some of the very popular figures who left a mark in history and the show managed to do its homework in capturing them. One thing we’d like to add is that AHS is not a show for the faint hearted.

These are again, just a small portion of the vast amount of resources the field of mental health has in store. Stay tuned with us as we explore and learn together.