Shows that Address Mental Health Issues

Sometimes life imitates art, and sometimes, art imitates life. mental health is one such subject that finds itself on both sides. In recent years, this sensitive subject has found itself as the premise of many works of art and entertainment. It’s perhaps because, as a society, we have finally realized that it’s important to have a dialogue about mental health. And in return, entertainment content around the subject generates further conversations. Some get it right, some don’t. However, it is fair to say that at least it is no longer a subject to be talked about behind closed doors but to be shared with others in the open.

This Mental Health Awareness Month (May 1 – 31), we are looking at some popular television and streaming shows that not only address mental health issues but also explore them through their characters and how they deal with those issues, thus humanizing the critical topic. Each of these shows covers different problems of their characters, in their distinctive narratives, but all of them have managed to bring down the stigma on mental health.

It’s also important to understand that these shows are mere representations of issues and not, in any way, advice or suggestions on how to deal with the same. That being said, here are some of our favorite television and streaming series that talk about mental health.

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We have known and seen Ricky Gervais as a master of humor and nailing dramedies. In after-life, Gervais brings out a very different person in Tony Johnson. Tony loses his wife to cancer and after her death from her, he struggles with his emotions and suicidal thoughts from her. Instead of reaching out to his friends and family for support, he withdraws himself into his shell from him and pushes people away. Over time, Tony learns that his approach might not be the best to deal with his issues.

couched in the dark comedy, after-life sheds light on grief and depression that is common after the death of a loved one. But most importantly, it also shows how men deal with such issues, which hasn’t been a common subject in mainstream media. The poignant and subtle humor, balanced with realistic performances, makes after-life a heartwarming series. The Netflix original ran for three seasons, from 2019 to 2022.


Based on the eponymous novel by sally rooneythe series follows two people from very different backgrounds, Marianne Sheridan (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and Connell Waldron (Paul Mescal), and their relationship from high school to college. The Irish romantic psychological drama explores how the young lovers navigate their adulthood and relationship while managing their emotions and mental states and learning to grow as individuals.

The essence of this series lies in its name. Through Marianne and Connell’s journey, it shows that mental health, like love and romance, is complicated to deal with, and it’s perfectly normal. The series has earned critical acclaim and a huge fan following for realistically portraying intimate content and addressing issues like anxiety, self-esteem, loneliness, and depression.

Based on Liane Moriarty‘s novel of the same name, the series follows five women – Madeline (Reese witherspoon), Light blue (Nicole Kidman), Jane (Shailene Woodley), bonny (Zoe Kravitz), and Renata (Laura Dern), in an upscale coastal suburb of California, where their small community is traumatized after the suspicious death of Celeste’s husband, Perry Wright (Alexander Skarsgard). The story is told retrospectively and in the course of each character’s journey, we learn about the events that shaped them and how their issues affect their social and personal lives.

Though the star-studded series stands on a major thriller plot, Big Little Lies simultaneously deals with significant themes and sensitive subjects like domestic violence and abuse and the aftermath of that trauma, like PTSD, self-guilt, and amnesia, indirect aggression, and social withdrawal. Remarkably portrayed by the entire cast, the series is indeed an emotional rollercoaster, set on the premise of a thriller. Big Little Lies ran for two seasons on HBO from 2017 to 2019 and won eight Primetime Emmy Awards, including many other awards and accolades.

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Based on the eponymous 1983 novel by Walter Tevis (The Man Who Fell To Earth), The Queen’s Gambit is the story of fictional chess prodigy Beth Harmon, played by Anya Taylor-Joy. Set in the 1950s, it follows an eight-year-old orphaned Elizabeth Harmon from Kentucky on her quest to become the world’s best chess player in the following years.

While the coming-of-age period drama is about a little girl’s dream and her eventual rise to fame, its underlying theme is essentially about childhood trauma and how that shapes a young mind and adult life. Ella’s Beth’s journey also depicts her struggle with substance dependency, and how her childhood addiction to tranquilizers later contributes to drug and alcohol abuse. The effects of cumulative trauma and mental struggles over the years, come out in the avoidance of her illness and denial of intimate relationships, leaving her isolated from herself and the world.

Billed as Netflix’s most-watched scripted miniseries within four weeks of its release, The Queen’s Gambit is a winner of 11 Primetime Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards.

This animated series is a dark comedy about a washed-up 90s television star who struggles with his declining popularity and maintaining his celebrity status. bojack horseman depicted as an anthropomorphic horse (voiced by Will Arnett), a popular face of 90s television, wants to return to acting and regain his relevance as an actor by publishing his tell-all autobiography. But his self-destructive behavior becomes a deterrent to his plans to move forward in life.

The Netflix original series explores BoJack’s struggles with addiction, depression, and maintaining healthy relationships with his friends and acquaintances, all of which are tied back to mental health issues that he was never aware of. The adult animated comedy-drama has been critically acclaimed and widely praised for its realistic portrayal of anxiety, depression, and trauma, among many other relevant issues. Spanning six seasons and 77 episodes, bojack horseman have a cult following.

This Showtime comedy-drama is an American remake of the eponymous British show by Paul Abbott. The story follows Frank Gallagher, played by William H Macy, a single father of six children – Fiona, Phillip, Ian, Debbie, Carl, and Liam. Frank is negligent, alcoholic, and spends his days drowning in alcohol or drugs and seeking adventures in the wrong places, while his kids from him learn to take care of themselves and each other, with the eldest, Fiona (Emmy Rossum), taking the reins of their poor and dysfunctional family.

Depicted through humor, the series shows how addiction and substance abuse can affect the family, as is the case with Frank. The series was highly appreciated for addressing bipolar disorder as shown in Ian (Cameron Monagahan), and how it slowly changes him, his relationships with his family and friends, and his perception of the world.

The British black comedy is based on Phoebe Waller Bridge‘s one-woman show of the same name, who also writes, creates, and stars in the television series. The Emmy Award-winning series is about the titular character, played by Waller-Bridge, who is searching for her meaning in her life.

A 30-something Londoner and café owner, Fleabag is grieving the recent deaths of her mother, and her best friend and business partner, Boo. While her mother de ella died of cancer, Boo killed herself on discovering her de ella boyfriend de ella cheating on her. In short, all this leads her to constant guilt trips, shame, and heartbreaks, while she is also coping with the loss of her most loved people. The constant struggle of the young woman is depicted through the witty and poignant narrative of fleabag, where we see her trying hard to navigate life, love, and her own emotions while catering to the expectations of her family and society. It’s easily one of the best shows of the last decade and an excellent presentation of mental health issues.


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