17 shows that positively discuss mental health

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Black Lightning

Superheroes and mental health are a canon theme in comic book material. We can’t blame (nor should we) shows that incorporate mental health discourse in superhero media. After all, mental health conditions are more prevalent in stressful situations, and the superhero vocation is a high-stress and unconventional workplace environment.

Just as Black Lightning has given us positive lesbian representation, several powerful Black superheroes, and an unconditionally supportive family, the series also includes vital messages about mental health. In the second season, Jennifer Pierce starts to see a therapist shortly after she starts to hone her powers.

Her powers were never the cause of her therapy visits, even if Jennifer might have initially blamed them for her mental health. Instead, the series clarifies that Jennifer needs to work with her coping mechanisms, especially since she has lingering posttraumatic anxiety from superpowers in general.

Toward the end of the first season alone, she watched her uncle kill someone mere feet in front of her. Because of her proximity to superpowered people, that traumatic incident only perpetuated her fear about herself.

She has some resentment toward her own abilities, but she was most afraid of her powers and how she might accidentally hurt someone because of those powers. Jennifer’s therapy sessions help minimize the stigmas about therapy in general. Therapy is often only portrayed as something someone with mental health conditions need; however, it’s really for anyone.

Jennifer’s therapy sessions show how multifaceted mental health professionals can be because it shows her talking through her fears, which redirects the focus on her personal growth rather than a defined symptom or condition.  It’s just her trying to make sense of her normal fears so she can move past them.

Her therapy sessions help her start to regain confidence in her abilities, and rightfully so seeing as she’s saved her father’s life and helped her family multiple times.