For the sake of drama and gritty storylines, most portrayals of mental health difficulties on Soaps are in the context of a severe crisis. As much as I applaud the writers for tackling such topics in an attempt to reduce stigma, I worry that instead they are worsening the epidemic of mental illness.
I am not trying to say that awareness is a bad thing, in fact I am trying to say it is the opposite. More discussion is still to be had before catering to the needs of our mental health will become as routine as caring for our physical health. Want I wish to convey is the harm that can be caused by watching characters in crisis on our screens. Suicidal, psychotic and manic are states shown in a protagonists but is not often a true reflection of the silent suffering of the 1 in 4 of the population who suffer from mental ill health. Characters in these shows frequently only get help once they have catastrophically broken down and this is not the message that TV broadcasters should be sending out to their viewers.
Instead, I want to scream: “symptoms of mental ill health occur before or without a crisis!!”
Currently there is a subliminal idea that is being spread through our TV screens, and that is that help is only warranted when you can no longer function. The message that such an influential media source should be saying is that early symptoms should not be ignored. Many disorders can be stopped in their tracks by psychological therapies if caught soon enough. The damage that can be caused by these illnesses can be reduced if we can acknowledge that mental illness does not have to mean a mental crisis.