Could Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why promote better mental health initiatives in schools? [opinion]

The controversy surrounding the Netflix Original Series 13 Reasons Why has blown up over the past couple of months, with thousands of Facebook users taking to their keyboards to either praise or condemn the show.

For those who have yet to see it, 13 Reasons Why explores the events leading up to the suicide of 15-year-old Hannah Baker. The series includes a graphic scene of Hannah painfully taking her own life in the bathtub.

13 Reasons Why is far from a perfect representation of mental illness – many argue that the show glosses over or even glorifies mental illness and suicide – but whether you love it or hate it, the outcome remains the same: people are talking about mental health and suicide prevention.

By promoting conversations about mental health, and exposing viewers to the harsh realities of ill-equipped school counsellors, 13 Reasons Why has challenged existing stigma surrounding mental health issues.

By introducing these types of media into pop culture, the existence of mental health issues become acknowledged and de-stigmatised within communities.

Why is this important?

According to a joint report from Mission Australia and the Black Dog Institute, nearly 1 in 4 Australian teenagers meet the criteria for “having a probable serious mental illness”.

A recent study from Headspace and the National Union of Students has also found that 1 in 3 Australian tertiary students think about self-harm or suicide.

By acknowledging and de-stigmatising mental health issues, we as a community can open the floor for educated discussions, learn to recognise signs of depression, and save more lives.

High schools and tertiary institutions can use media as a tool to engage students and staff when discussing mental health, disprove stereotypes and highlight the importance of seeking help if needed.

In 13 Reasons Why, the failure of the school counsellor, Mr. Porter, to reach out and provide help to Hannah when she sought it should provide current and future counsellors with an understanding of how not to treat a teenager battling depression.

Students can also be encouraged to educate themselves on mental health awareness, learn to look for symptoms, and find out how to ask for help.

In response to research indicating that teenagers prefer to share their problems with peers, Mental Health First Aid Australia developed a course specifically aimed at teenagers to encourage them to support their peers.

After completing the course, participants had reduced stigmatised attitudes, improved knowledge of mental health problems and their treatment, increased confidence in providing mental health first aid to a peer, and increased help-seeking intentions.

So, it’s up to schools to decide whether they should force their students to analyse Macbeth’s soliloquies and memorise Pythagoras’s theorem, or teach staff and students to potentially save lives.

I know which I’d pick.

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What happens when you stop taking prescribed medication?

When battling mental illness it is just as important to take your prescribed medication as it is with any physical illness.

Every couple of months I have a period when I stop taking my medication – I either think I am well enough to function without it or I decide I want to be like a “normal”, healthy person. Sometimes I just forget, even though taking my medication is the first thing I do when I get up in the morning.

Continue reading “What happens when you stop taking prescribed medication?”

Anxiety and social isolation: an interview with Kristina Pierce

Kristina Pierce* is the next brave woman to come forward and share her story of generalised anxiety disorder and major depression. Kristina was a silent sufferer for years before she was diagnosed, making her withdraw from society. After being diagnosed at age 16, she found an emotional support network made up of her friends, boyfriend and psychiatrist.

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How Exercise Can Help Depression

I will be the first to admit that the word “exercise” makes me cringe. However, research has shown that regular exercise can help ease depression and in some cases work better than anti-depressants.

Better Living Advice And Support

achievia-exercise-helps-depressionMost people at some point in their lives will suffer from depression at varying levels of severity. Although depression can be crippling at times, there are things you can do to help prevent it before the offset, and things to help during the period.

It has been proven that exercise helps hugely with depression, however that doesn’t mean you have to go out and run a marathon every day!  It can be hard to even get out of bed sometimes when you have depression so it’s okay to just do leisurely exercise a few times a week.

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#Suicide #Survival

This post by The Bipolar Bum looks at why people decide to take their own life as a side effect of depression.
Self-harm or suicide can be such an unfathomable concept to people who do not live with mental illness. Sometimes you can no longer control your thoughts and nothing seems to make sense.
I would strongly recommend reading this no matter how much, or little you know about depression and suicide. Awareness can save lives.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please seek help. A list of international suicide hotlines are provided at the end of this post.

The Bipolar Bum

didntwanttodieorlive

It is the nature of the beast that when we become truly overwhelmed by depression, we begin to look for ways of stopping the pain.  We become prepared to take decisive, extreme action.

The best way to think of depression is as though it is sentient, and actively trying to subvert your thought patterns to destroy you.  Most things that feel counter-intuitive whilst depressed are usually better courses of action than the one’s that your depression will offer you.  It does not want you to behave in a way that will destroy it.

At first, the idea of self-destruction presents itself as one solution among many.  The thought for me is almost casual and I used to just ignore it.  I now take it for the warning shot that it is.  If you’re having suicidal thoughts, take that as your early-warning-system sounding an alarm.  In the grip of depression all…

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My encounter with depression and anxiety

After interviewing Susie Jones last week and listening to her story, I thought it would be appropriate to share mine. I have been living with depression and anxiety for about four years now, although I wasn’t diagnosed until after I finished high school. I didn’t seek medical help on my own; my mum helped me to reach out and get the support I needed.

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Dealing with depression: an interview with Suzie Jones

Suzie Jones* was diagnosed with clinical depression in 2009 when she was 15. Since she was young Suzie has been attending counseling sessions and taking anti-depressants. Suzie tried to take her own life twice before telling her family about her depression. Many issues contributed to her depression, but with support from her friends and family she has battled her illness and has not taken anti-depressants for two years.

Continue reading “Dealing with depression: an interview with Suzie Jones”