I wanted to discuss the way pop culture deals with veteran’s mental health, and to my surprise, a number of potential options appeared. Veterans are a common topic on TV procedurals (stereotypically watched by traditional, middle Americans who love apple pie and freedom), and due to the two wars and the influx of baby boomers remembering how Vietnam veterans were treated, the topic comes up a lot. The theme is usually how the government has failed veterans (and how they have!) and how the local community needs to step up and take care of them. Often, one of the main characters of the show is a veteran himself. Shows like NCIS, CSI and Bones have characters that are veterans, and have episodes about veteran’s issues. Recently, the issue has appeared in a more complicated fashion on more complicated cable shows like Justified and Sherlock. One episode about veterans that stuck with me is Criminal Minds’ “Distress,” from its second season.
Entries Tagged as 'Mind Over Pop Culture'
I’ve been immensely proud to work at Mental Health America for over four years now, and the story of the creation of the organization has always been a source of pride. Clifford Beers, a young man from Connecticut, spent three years in various mental hospitals in the state, and when he got out, he changed the world. He wrote a book called A Mind That Found Itself, published in 1908, and used his experiences to create the National Committee on Mental Hygiene. The Committee was created in 1909, and in 2012, we celebrate 104 years of fighting for what Mr. Beers strove for, openness and lack of stigma for people with mental illnesses. This idea goes back to his time in hospitals, and to the writing of his book.
After hearing about it since last summer, I finally got a chance to see Silver Linings Playbook. The movie has been on a tear since its release, winning The American Film institute Best Picture of the Year, The Toronto Film Festival People Choice Award, and the Independent Spirit Award Best Picture of the Year. In addition, it was nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars, the Golden Globes and the Producer’s Guild. Stars Jennifer Laurence, Bradley Cooper, Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver all racked up numerous nominations for their work. But was it actually any good? Was the mental health piece of the movie an honest portrayal of people with bipolar disorder?
It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a sweet little movie that manages to do something almost unheard of in movies about mental health, especially those in mental hospitals. It treats all of its characters, the patients, the doctors and the love interests, as real people. Heck, it’s even better at character creation than most movies not about people with mental illnesses.
The movie is about a teenager named Craig Gilner. Stressed out from the pressures of school, an application for a prestigious summer program and his friends, he dreams about committing suicide. Concerned, he checks himself into the psychiatric ward of the local hospital, where he is housed with the adults. He meets Bobby, an older man with depression, and the two become friends. He learns about himself through his week on the ward, and about all of the other patients. He even begins to date another teenaged patient named Noelle. By the end of the week, Craig has learned about himself and leaves the ward with a more positive outlook on life.
Suicide, and its image in pop culture, has a long and confusing history. Anyone you ask about suicide will tell you that it’s a horrible thing, especially the suicides of young people but ask anyone about Romeo and Juliet, and it’s the most romantic story in the world. The deaths of the two lovers becomes the final point in their love, not a mistake egged on by adults who want to use the teens for their gains. One of suicide’s connotations is now the tragic end of teenaged love.