Mental Illness in Pop Culture

Pop culture is a modernized culture that consists of attitudes, ideas, and perspectives within the mainstream. This includes music, film/television, advertisements/marketing, sports, magazines etc. Within these areas, one topic has become increasingly discussed, and that’s mental illness.

Mental illness is being talked about a lot more in our society than it used to. This doesn’t come as a surprise to me, because apparently, “1 in 5 adults ... and 1 in 5 youth [in the U.S.] experience mental illness in a given year.” (NAMI: “Mental Health by the Numbers” 2018). These are also the highest rates for any country in the world. Despite how normal it actually is, mental illness hasn’t been openly discussed until recently. While there’s still a lot of stigma and shaming when discussing mental health, mass media has started trying to raise awareness.

Celebrities such as Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Logic, and Kendrick Lamar, among many others, have used their platforms to openly talk about their struggles with mental health issues. By doing this, these celebrities are helping to reverse the stigmas of mental illness. They do this by showing us we’re all human, and that even our idols can struggle with mental illness. They’ve begun to participate in public service announcements, like Logic’s famous Grammy Awards Performance, or Selena Gomez producing the Netflix hit 13 Reasons Why.

When celebrities, entertainers, and activists in pop culture openly discuss their struggles with mental illness, it allows for others to desire and want to seek help. By doing this, celebrities can help people feel comfortable in their own skin. Although it is not often portrayed in the most accurate way, increased awareness and feedback has allowed for better representation of mental health issues.

Television and films consistently give viewers insight into a side of mental illness that the audience may never see. Just a few examples are Cyberbully, Split, Primal Fear, or Fatal Attraction. These shows/movies can either negatively or positively affect the stigma built around mental illness, but the more that it’s openly discussed in pop culture, the more it can encourage us to become more knowledgeable, mindful, and conscious of the nature of mental health.

Even if you don’t feel comfortable with talking about depression or anxiety, listen to Logic’s newest album. Watch Demi Lovato’s documentary on YouTube. Sit down and talk with a friend about that NF song that made you tear up. There’s a good chance that either you or someone you know is struggling with mental health issues, so let’s make it normal by talking about it together.