Mental health awareness day: 10 shows that illustrate the reality of mental illness


Nicky morris

Today it’s Mental health awareness day and to mark the occasion, we’ve put together a list of some of the best shows that accurately portray mental illness.

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There’s no question that more and more shows are tackling the topic of mental health, but they don’t always do it right. Many shows have been criticized for portraying mental health, with characters reinforcing damaging and unrelated stereotypes.

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WATCH: You can now watch Normal People on BBC iPlayer

As mental health becomes an increasingly popular topic, it is important that the experience of people with mental health issues is truly represented on the small screen. Here is a list of TV shows that give an accurate and comprehensive picture of mental illness.

Available on BBC iPlayer

Normal people drew a lot of attention when it hit our screens in the summer of 2020 and launched the Hollywood career of the stars Paul Mescal (The trunk) and Daisy edgar jones (Cold feet).

This critically acclaimed series deals with a number of important themes, including loss, loneliness and mental health.

The show received particular praise for its realistic portrayal of men’s mental health issues as the show sees Connell (Paul Mescal) battling depression.


Normal people has been praised for its portrayal of men’s mental health

BoJack Cavalier

Available on Netflix

BoJack Cavalier has been widely praised for its nuanced and honest portrayal of the realities of mental illness. Dubbed “the most important animated series since The Simpsons” by Time Magazine, the series follows the titular Bojack, a star of the ’90s sitcom, as he battles his declining popularity, depression, addiction and maintaining relationships.

The show explores BoJack’s mental state and the causes of his self-destructive behavior without offering a solution. The series also takes an authentic approach to toxic relationships and antidepressants. Definitely worth watching.


BoJack Cavalier is available on Netflix

This way up

Available on Every 4

This BAFTA-winning dramatic comedy is written by and stars Aisling Bea as Áine, a young teacher living in London recovering from a mental breakdown. The show follows Áine as she tries to get her life back on track with the help of worried sister Shona, played by Sharon Horgan (Disaster Shoot).

The show is both funny and touching, and has been praised for its raw portrayal of mental health. If you haven’t seen it yet, check out both seasons!

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this way until

The show stars Aisling Bea and Sharon Horgan

After life

Available on Netflix

This dark comedy drama has been hailed for highlighting grief and depression. Created by and featuring Ricky gervais, the show follows the life of journalist Tony Johnson whose life is plunged into despair after losing his wife to cancer.

The show is a great mix of humor and poem, and with the new series slated to arrive next year, it’s a great time to catch up on the first and second seasons.


Dark comedy sheds light on mourning for depression

Available on BBC iPlayer

Another excellent comedy-drama series that cleverly portrays mental illness is Phoebe Waller-Pont‘s Flea bag. The show has received widespread critical acclaim for its clever and witty writing, but also for its poignant character.

The show follows a young woman, known only as Fleabag, as she navigates life and love in London while trying to cope with tragedy.

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flea bag

Chip bag won several awards

Available on Amazon prime

It’s us is a television drama series that follows the lives of siblings Kevin, Kate and Randall, played by Justin Hartley, Chrissy Metz and Sterling K. Brown respectively, and their parents Jack and Rebecca Pearson, played by Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore.

The portrayal of mental illness through the character of Randall has been widely praised by critics and fans alike. The show highlights Randall’s continued struggle with panic attacks and anxiety, as well as themes of addiction and grief through other characters.


The drama is available on Amazon Prime


Available on All4

Based on the book of the same name, the comedy drama series stars Charly Clive as 24-year-old Marnie, who suffers from a specific form of OCD called Pure O which manifests itself in overwhelming and distressing intrusive thoughts. In Marnie’s case, these intrusive thoughts are inappropriate sexual views.

The series follows Marnie as she seeks to diagnose her condition and sheds light on this particular form of OCD.

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Pure approaches the reality of life with OCD

crazy ex-girlfriend

Available on Netflix

crazy ex-girlfriend is a musical comedy-drama that follows Rachel Bloom as Rebecca Bunch, a young woman who gives up her successful life as a real estate lawyer at a major New York law firm in an effort to find love and happiness in California.

The show has garnered much praise for its management of mental illness. He follows Rebecca as she seeks a diagnosis for her behaviors and explores her attitudes toward mental health after being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.


crazy ex-girlfriend is available on Netflix

The Queen’s Gambit

Available on Netflix

The Queen’s Gambit follows young chess prodigy Beth Harmon (played by Anya Taylor-Joy, Split, Emma), and her quest to become a star chess player while struggling with addiction and mental illness.

The miniseries shows how isolated mental illness can be as Beth denies offers of friendship, but ultimately shows that accepting help is the best way to be successful in life.

The show was very well received, winning 11 Emmy’s and two Golden Globe Awards, so it’s well worth a visit.

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The Queen’s Gambit is available on Netflix

Big mouth

Available on Netflix

Big mouth is an animated series that focuses on teenage friends and the wonders and horrors of puberty. The show was praised for its candid portrayal of mental illness, particularly depression and anxiety. Big mouth brings those feelings to life through characters, such as Depression Kitty, a giant purple cat who enjoys berating the character Jessi (played by Jessi Klein) with depressing thoughts.

The comedy series approaches the subject with care and compassion while avoiding harmful stereotypes.


Big mouth approaches mental health with compassion

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