Can television improve our mental health?

·2-min read
Series, such as "13 Reasons Why," can help teens learn about mental health disorders.

Movies and TV series could play an educational role when it comes to mental health and even help some people overcome depression, according to an American report.

Are your teens glued to the TV? That could in fact be a good thing for their mental health. According to a report from UCLA University, TV programs could help some viewers overcome depression, social anxiety, as well as deal with issues of sexual harassment, if the shows address these topics with empathy.

"Our research found that when teens watch TV shows that portray mental health issues, they actually talk about it with their peers, parents and partners," explained Dr. Yalda T. Uhls, executive director of the Center for Scholars and Storytellers, in a press release.

Teen drama series "13 Reasons Why," available on Netflix, addresses issues such as suicide and depression. The researchers wanted to know the effects of the series on the mental health of adolescents. After the airing of season 3 in the United States, they interviewed 157 children aged 13 to 17 via a questionnaire in order to measure their knowledge on topics related to mental health.

Films and series to raise awareness

"Our results demonstrate that these kinds of challenging and realistic stories inspire youth to talk about and learn more about mental health," noted Dr. Yalda T. Uhls. Of the 68 teens who watched the series, 62 were educated to the point of doing research on the subject. It's believed that the series facilitated discussion about mental health issues between these teens and their loved ones.

The actors and producers of the series also helped inform and educate the young audience about these disorders. The study underlines the importance of social media for spreading information and encourages this type of initiative to be repeated in the future.

Louis Tardy