Romanticization of Mental Health


Lauren Sanders, Staff Writer

Media has impacted our thoughts on political and religious views along with things that we encounter in everyday life, which includes the mental health of ourselves and others. With mental health being presented through media more, it has led to positive and negative effects. On the bright side, the conversation of mental health has become less taboo and more normalized. However, due to this normalization, mental health issues have been brought to romanticization. The act of romanticization can be described as making a less than ideal situation into something that is more appealing. This can be helpful for everyday tasks like homework, having to get up early, cleaning, etc, which allows people to feel more motivated and to feel like you have more control over your life. However, romanticization does not actually bring light to a situation, it just brings illusion.  

Circa the early to mid 2010’s the social media platform Tumbler was at its height, people were posting these “tragically beautiful” quotes, causing others to think they have these illnesses leading those to not empathize with the people actually diagnosed. Because of this, people will start to not take mental illnesses seriously, if it seems like everybody has mental illness than why should people care if it’s so normal. Making it easier for people to lose sight in what issues lie within having a mental illness, therefor making it easier to romanticize. In recent years, in replacement of Tumbler, another very popular social media platform has reintroduced us to the tragically beautiful and the idea that the more traumatic experiences you have, the funnier, and interesting you are. Which in and of itself is problematic because a mental disorder is not just some quirk that you can have to make you a more interesting person. 

To get a better understanding, two of our school counselors, Dr Odden Heide and Ms. Roberts. We talked about the definition of mental health. Odden Heide states: “just how you take care of your physical body, you can take care of your brain and how you think and how you feel.”Roberts adds; “just like how you can sprain an ankle, sometimes there’s parts of mental health that are hurting too and you can’t always see it, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not there”. Odden Heide also states: “How you think can affect how you physically feel, like you can think yourself into feeling a racing heartrate, sweaty palms, nauseous, the brain is real powerful and not separate from our bodies.”  They noted that kids in recent years have been more willing to see them and talk to them about mental health. Roberts says, “When you talk to kids about mental health, it’s less of what is that and more of I need help with this, and kids are more aware about it. I think it is becoming less stigmatized.”  Personally, they think that mental health has been romanticized. Odden Heide states “I think that there are some positives that come with having mental health discussed in media to help de-stigmatize stuff the hard part is when it gets so wrapped up in a bow. Sometimes it’s a process to get better and can’t be wrapped up in one episode, like in a show.”  

Movies, TV shows, and even music can make depressed and suicidal people seem poetic, adding to the idea of being tragically beautiful. An example of this is the movie, “Girl, Interrupted.” The movie is based off of the book which was written by the real-life story of the main character, the story follows this girl named Susana who got admitted to a mental hospital. A certain part of the movie kept on being re-blogged on Tumbler, as it was circulating, people have found themselves relating to it and the people who didn’t even fully relate to the quote or even understand it still acted like they related to fit in to put on that persona of being beautifully sad. 

The medias perception of mental health is always changing, which can both lead to positive and negative effects. Mental health is not a thing to romanticize or glorify as it is a serious issue that a lot of people deal with.