Using TV Shows and Social Media to Initiate Conversations About Mental Health
Mental health is a tough topic to tackle with teenagers, especially when they are often defensive, distant, or just not interested.
Starting an open, ongoing dialogue with your teen about mental health issues just may be their saving grace. Watching television shows and checking out social media content together are great segues into conversations with your teen about depression, anxiety, self-harm, and other mental health conditions.
Hanging out with your teen and watching TV is a great way to initiate a conversation about mental health. Plan a night, scoop some ice cream, and settle in to watch a show.
Netflix’s controversial “13 Reasons Why” tells the story of a girl who’s committed suicide. Some scenes are extremely graphic, and experts have argued that the show may glamorize teen suicide.
If you suspect your teen is depressed, this may not be the show to watch. Either way, talk it out ahead of time. What’s important is using the show as a springboard to discuss social pressures teens face, as well as mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and suicide.
Newcomer “Riverdale” or shows to stream like “One Tree Hill” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” aren’t as explicit but cover topics teens deal with like rejection, failure, first love, sexuality, teen pregnancy, family discord, and death. Your teen may identify with characters on the screen, giving you a great opportunity to segue into a conversation.
TV Talking Points
Start by asking, “What do you think of the show?” This can naturally lead to a discussion about problems your teen faces.
Identify with the characters. Showing empathy for a girl who’s been dumped by her boyfriend may help your teen open up about a breakup.