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Gen Z: Glamorising Depression

Image source: Rotten Tomatoes


Who Is Generation Z?

 Gen Z born between 1997- 2012, 9 out of 10 are estimated to be depressed according to the Apa website. This generation is also considered to be more outspoken discussing their mental well-being, it is easier to find out information on mental health. Previous generations did not have the knowledge and did not understand the signs and causes of mental health issues. The stigma that was associated with older generations about mental health has ceased to exist. Our generation is sharing their experience and advice to cope. However, the question remains why is Gen Z the most depressed generation? Why does the media romanticise mental illnesses?


The Issue with Romanticising Mental Health

According to Optimist Minds having a mental health illness is seen as a“quirky personality trait” which not only heightens mental health levels in Gen Z but also condemns the fact that it is artsy and cool to be depressed. Melissa Pandika highlights that the pain of mental health issues causes the romanticism and glamorisation of depression to forget how upsetting it is in real life. It makes the individual feel better if the situation shows it in a better light than the reality of the experience. Television series and movies try to glamorise mental illnesses to be more relatable to its Gen Z audience, to make the experience of it more appealing. In truth there is nothing glamorous about a depressed teenager. The individual suffers every day; thus, their environment is depressing, and their loved ones may suffer also as result of this, because of their mood change, depression and more. 


There is also a detrimental impact to the glamorisation of depression according to Optimist Minds. Teenagers are influenced by exaggerated depression quotes. They feel they should recreate or lead their life by a quote to be a part of a group, in order to relate and discuss their mental health issues with. It takes away from the authenticity of mental health disorders and turns it into manipulation of others in social media, as they use their feelings for a certain benefit. This is not, because they want to share their experience amongst others who are vulnerable. However, whilst you may feel motivated or inspired by the creator’s content. It is clinically not the treatment you are supposed to receive when treating such illnesses. Most of the creator’s content is filled with false information, it only deepens into the issue and isolates you from speaking up about your own experience with it.


TV Series “13 Reasons Why”

This leads us to the popular and controversial TV series “13 reasons why”. According to The Black and White website the plot of the series was worsening teenagers’ mental illness views, it glamorised the experience of depression. Parents and guardians were urged to prevent their children from watching the series. After the show aired, world-wide teenagers committed suicide in the same way that the main character did in the show. Cate Navarrete stated that the show makes teenagers feel “if they kill themselves that people will finally pay attention to them. She continues to highlight the reality and it is that “most people that kills themselves do not do it for attention”. This goes to show how a series can impact on a teenager today. The impact is detrimental, and the show continues to be viewed as problematic by its teenage audience, showing that a series is more interested in viewership than the reality of mental illness.


TV Series “Euphoria”

On the contrary a series titled “Euphoria” released in 2019 has a similar issue of romanticizing mental illness and is known for being problematic for that reason by many teenagers today. The show portrays the negative side effects and the negative experience a teenager could undergo with a mental illness, however, it only conveys this to a certain extent, leaving the rest of the show to be unrealistic representation of the impacts of mental health on its victims. The author writes that it is not far from the likes of the previously mentioned “13 reasons why”. The author dwells deeper into the topic by stating out that fact “the show attempts to portray addiction as an uphill battle… yet it also treats Rue’s illness as something exciting and desirable”, which could be compared to the recreation of the suicide from “13 reasons why”. As is underlined by the author “with stunning cinematography and vibrant music, leaving the viewer with the aim of seeking out similar thrills”, thus leading teenagers to want to experience what their favourite character experiences in the show, even if it is dangerous to pursue. 



To conclude this topic just as it was said in The Black and White “mental illness is chaotic, messy and difficult to navigate: multi-coloured lights and glitter don’t accompany these struggles like it’s portrayed". These portrayals of mental health could be really damaging to young teenagers and in worse cases could lead to suicide. These shows don’t just show us what they want us to see, they instal this mindset and perspective in teenagers by portraying mental health to be is unique, quirky and most of all that it is an appealing and desirable experience. When in fact having a depression, OCD, PTSD and many more are not a personality trait, they are a reflection of a deeper-rooted issue within a person due to many things they may have gone throughout their life.



Very Well Mind (2021) Why Is Gen Z Is More Open To Talking About Their Mental Health

Apa(2019) Gen Z Is More Likely To Report Mental Health Concerns

The Black And White (2021) There’s Nothing Romantic About That: The Media Must Stop Glamorizing Mental Ilness


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Tags: #depression#13reasonswhy#Euphoria#glamorisingdepression


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