Dennis Relojo-Howell

How Can TV Shows Improve the Mental Health of Middle School Kids

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Dennis Relojo-Howell, (2019, November 13). How Can TV Shows Improve the Mental Health of Middle School Kids. Psychreg on Developmental Psychology.
Reading Time: 3 minutes

It is high time we all started to acknowledge that mental health is something not to be taken lightly. It is estimated that about 10–15% of adolescent teens are suffering from depression at any given time. The average age of teenage depression is just 14 years old and many a times, they go by unnoticed.

For quite some time now, it has been spread that television harms the growth of a child and only very selective shows must be allowed to be watched. This statement is half true. The times have changed and television plays an important part in the development of any child or teenager. And according to studies, it has been shown that TV shows with the right message spread positivity and compassion between children.

But how exactly can this be achieved? What changes can the TV industry and film-makers implement to ensure that this is tackled in the right way?

1. Acknowledging 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 as simple in this case because mental health in kids has to be tackled right. There have been cartoons such as Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra who have done this right. They’ve shown that even the strongest can be vulnerable to weakness and it is OK to accept help.

The popular show 13 Reasons Why received a lot of backlash for showing gruesome suicide and revolving an entire show around mental illness however, it received a lot of positive reviews from the teenage age group for accurately depicting how mental illness can take its toll.

2. Promote shows with positive social message

When children watch shows that promote positive messages, they tend to respond more to feelings of compassion and love. This, in turn, also makes them better in group activities and more socially outgoing.

Social awkwardness can really affect middle school kids and thus, helping children navigate around that can really lead up to a positive and lasting affect.

In order to fully understand what type of messages children will positively respond to, it is important that you know what childhood depression really entails. 

3. Type of content matters

There is a difference in simply acknowledging this issue and then going about it the right way. There are a lot of shows out there that promote healthy group activities, cooperation and other positive messages. However, there are a lot that don’t. It is important that the two be filtered out and differentiated so that it is handled the right way. Comcast is one of the leading cable TV options in the US and they offer a lot of options in the type of content that the audience can view. 

4. Consider the behaviour of the protagonist

TV shows that portray a protagonist in a way that the viewers can relate to tend to do quite well. People, especially kids, tend to find ways to relate to the protagonist. And if they like the character, they try to mimic his ways of going about in any scenario. For this reason, it is important that the protagonist be portrayed the right way. Instead of going about violent ways to get his ways, cooperating and seeking help from friends are traits that will be beneficial for the mental health of the middle school children watching. They need to know that they’re not alone and seeking help from friends and family is nothing to shy away from.

Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He is also the editor-in-chief of Psychreg Journal Psychology, and writes a weekly column for Free Malaysia Today


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