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We need to acknowledge that mental health is something not to be taken lightly. Mental health conditions account for 16% of the global burden of disease and injury in people aged 10–19 years. Studies also reveal that 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14; and many times, they go by unnoticed.
For quite some time now, it has been claimed that watching television can be detrimental to teens’ mental health and well-being. This statement is partly true. But times have changed, and many researchers acknowledge that television plays an important role in a teen’s holistic well-being. Studies suggest that TV shows can promote values development.
Still, we need to figure out what changes can the media industry implement to ensure that this is approached the right way.
Acknowledge that mental health isn’t to be taken lightly
The first step towards solving any problem is acknowledging that it exists. But it is not quite simple in this case because mental health in teens has to be tackled appropriately.
There have been shows such as Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra who have demonstrated that it can be done: they’ve shown that even the strongest can be vulnerable to weakness, and it is acceptable to seek help.
The popular show 13 Reasons Why received a lot of backlash for showing gruesome suicide and having an entire show pivot on mental illness. Still, it received a lot of positive reviews from teen viewers for accurately depicting how mental illness can take its toll.
Promote shows with positive messages
When teens watch shows that promote positive messages, it can help in boosting emotional intelligence. This, in turn, also makes them more sociable.
Social awkwardness can affect teens. So, helping them to navigate this area can lead to a positive and long-lasting effect.
In order to fully understand what type of messages teens will positively respond to, it is important that you know what positive mental health entails.
Realise that type of content matters
There is a difference in simply acknowledging this issue and then going about it the right way. There are several shows that promote healthy group activities, cooperation, and other positive messages. However, there are also shows whose contents can be detrimental to a teen’s well-being.
It is important that the two be filtered out so that it is handled the right way. For instance, Comcast, who is one of the leading cable TV providers in the US, offers a range of options in the types of content that the audience can view.
Consider the behaviour of the protagonist
There are TV shows that portray a protagonist in a positive light. Teens feel that these characters are relatable; and if they like the character, they try to mimic their ways of going about in any scenario. For this reason, it is important that the protagonist be portrayed sensibly.
When it comes to mental health, teens need to realise that they’re not alone and seeking help from friends and family is not to shy away from.
Dennis Relojo-Howell is the managing director of Psychreg.
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