Mental Illness Is All Over TV — Here’s Why That’s Not Always a Good Thing

Lately it seems like everyone has been talking about mental health, so it’s not surprising that our favorite TV shows are taking on topics pertaining to the psyche more and more, too.

This is Us beautifully and fairly portrays binge eating disorder, alcoholism, and panic disorder. Shameless features a mother and son who both have bipolar disorder, and it thoughtfully represents their challenges. The last season of Handmaid’s Tale showed a variety of responses to trauma, sexual assault, and peri- and postpartum mood disorders. Representation like this on television is a great way to destigmatize mental illness — but that only works if the representation is fair and accurate. Unfortunately mental health storylines are much more likely to be fear-mongering and wildly wrong. As a psychiatrist, this both piques my interest and upends my work-life balance.

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