Portray a Range of Mental Health Experiences - Mental Health

Top Storytelling Tips

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  1. Show that mental health is a continuum
    1. Expand depictions of mental health and treatment to reflect the full continuum of mental health experiences — from thriving to actively coping to really struggling — and help viewers understand that self-care and treatment can benefit anyone, at any time.

Mental health is a continuum that we all move across throughout our lives — and just like physical health, there are always things we can do to improve our mental health and prevent future challenges. (Learn more about the continuum and factors that impact our mental health.) 

However, people often only hear about mental health in the context of more serious conditions like depression or PTSD, or worst-case scenarios like overdose, self-injury, and suicide. Similarly, many mental health treatments like talk therapy are commonly referenced in relation to more serious challenges or conditions like depression or anxiety disorders. 

Look for opportunities to expand depictions of mental health and treatment to reflect the full continuum:

  • Find ways to make mental health challenges relatable and universal, even if you are telling a story that involves a person living with a diagnosed condition or experiencing extreme circumstances.
  • Present mental health as a part of overall health. Show that, like physical health, mental health impacts all aspects of our lives — from school, to work, to relationships — in ways that are both positive and negative. Normalize taking care of mental health the same way you’d take care of your physical health.
  • Help viewers understand that treatment, coping strategies, and self-care can benefit anyone, at any time. Mental health professionals are trained to assist clients with a wide range of more common problems like relationship issues and work stress and help us proactively strengthen our mental health through coping skills and lifestyle changes. Look for points in your narrative where characters might use therapy as an ongoing part of their mental health maintenance or seek help outside of a crisis. Expanding the concept of mental health support through storytelling can encourage viewers to get help sooner and prevent more damaging impacts to their health or quality of life.

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more in part 6