How The Musical "Dear Evan Hansen" Changed The Conversation On Mental Health

 

Over the summer, I discovered the Broadway Musical “Dear Evan Hansen” (DEH).  The show stars Pitch Perfect’s Ben Platt as Evan Hansen, a high school senior with social anxiety who finds himself amidst a web of lies following a classmate’s death by suicide, at last getting the chance to finally fit in. By forging a fake friendship with his former classmate, Evan is able to cope with his own anxiety and depression, while becoming closer to the people around him. After watching this show, I was surprised at how much I related to it and how many emotions were triggered. This was the modern show that we needed to see the difficulties that college brings with it. Nevertheless, DEH has changed the way I look at mental health in today’s society.

 

DEH utilizes modern day technology and social media in order to reveal their effect on our mental health.

This is something that is very important and often overlooked in today’s society. We’re living in a digital age where it’s easy to hide behind smartphones and social media. In the show, Evan Hansen uses his laptop as a method of hiding behind the screen, along with all of his other classmates. This fuels to the effects that anxiety and depression have on young individuals—no one being able to see the true feelings or emotions of those hiding behind the screens. This makes it easier for people who are struggling with these issues to go unnoticed. DEH does a great job of utilizing technology and its effects on modern day relationships and mental health.

The playwrights are not afraid to get real and serious when it comes to mental health issues.

Although light hearted at points, this show deals with dark topics. Right off the bat, we see Evan Hansen struggling with his anxiety and later he reveals his suicide attempt to his mother. We see Evan’s classmate, Connor Murphy, as he deals with his depression and later suicide. The show doesn’t try to sugarcoat these issues, and I think that this is a productive way to get people to participate in the conversation on how to properly take care of issues like these. If you are struggling with anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issues, there are numerous resources online and on your college campuses where you can find someone to talk to and someone who will help you through it all.

 

DEH relays the message that none of us are ever alone.

In the events before the show takes place, Evan Hansen falls out of a tree and breaks his arm, and lies on the ground until his manager finds him and takes him to the hospital. This ends up having a double meaning throughout the show—Evan didn’t know if anyone would find him lying on the ground after breaking his arm, just as he’s worried that no one will find him or notice him as he’s silently trying to deal with his anxiety and depression. After making a speech to his entire school about his classmate former Connor and realizing what the struggles of depression that he was going through, Evan realizes that he has to use this newfound spotlight to help other people going through the same thing, as well as help himself with his own anxiety and depression. This leads to one of the most emotional moments of the show where Evan emphasizes to everyone that we are never alone, and the entire cast doesn’t disappoint in delivering a stellar moving performance along with him. No one should ever feel like they are alone. There is always someone who will be there to listen to you, and help carry you and support you when you need it the most.

The soundtrack will make you ugly cry (in the best way possible).

If the message of the play and it’s brilliant portrayal didn’t already make you emotional, then this soundtrack will do the trick. From upbeat comedic tracks to slow ballads, these songs can help anyone make it through a rough day. I know I have turned to this soundtrack when my anxiety and stress makes it really hard to tackle the day, and I believe that everyone should have that beacon guide them into better times.

The Official Broadway Show collaborates with various mental health organizations to promote a healthy well-being in everyone.

From the Crisis Text Line to The Trevor Project to even Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation, DEH works with these nonprofit organizations in order to create a show that emphasizes the important message of self-care and togetherness, especially at times when it can be  so easy to feel hopeless and alone. It makes me so happy knowing that so much effort and hard work was put into a production that has already helped so many people.

Take care, Gophers!