Mental Health and the Media

By Michelle Scruggs

In today’s society, where technology reigns supreme, so many things can be expressed through different forms of media.  Mental health and mental illness are no exception to this.  There are many examples, but I think that one of the most influential ones is the 2015 Disney Pixar movie Inside Out.  For any readers who have not seen this film before, I recommend it!   It’s about a young girl named Riley who just moved to a new city with her parents after her father loses his job. With a new city comes a new school filled with unfamiliar faces.  As Riley is forced to cope with this change in her life, the audience is introduced to the five characters in her mind:  Joy, Anger, Fear, Disgust, and Sadness.  During different scenarios she comes across throughout the film, the viewers are able to see the emotions she experiences through the lens of these characters.  (Sidenote:  This film is particularly useful for children who may have difficulty communicating how they are feeling because they can simply point to the matching character).

Feeling Alone

  This movie directly relates to mental health because it deals with emotions that people experience every day.  For example, when someone is depressed, they often feel sadness.  When someone is anxious, they often feel fear.  I chose this movie, not only because I think that it is a wonderful example of a connection between mental health and the media, but also because I think everyone can benefit from watching it. It reminds me of the situation we find ourselves in today with Covid-19.  In the movie, Riley  has so much trouble coping with the uncertainty of her move and the isolation she feels when she arrives.  She  doesn’t know anyone and she’s  unsure how to deal with the roller coaster of emotions as her thoughts battle between happy memories and the reality in front of her;  She feels alone. 

Working Together

From  my experience, the most  detrimental effect of COVID-19 is the loneliness that engulfs our minds.  Just like Riley, our society has been forced into an uncertain situation we could not see coming, and many of us were uncertain of how to cope.  We too experience a  roller coaster of emotions as we remember the happy memories of things we used to take for granted. Simple activities like hugging friends or visiting family.  Left unchecked, these feelings of loneliness can heighten to unsafe extremes.  The most prevalent issue is the increasing suicide rate. The COVID-19 pandemic is not only a matter of physical health.  It is quickly creating a mental health pandemic as well.  It is my hope that anyone reading this may feel comfortable sharing experiences in an effort to foster friendships and work towards putting the spotlight on mental health so that we may get through the tough times together.

Check out the movie trailer here:

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Mental Health and the Media