17 shows that positively discuss mental health

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Nurse Jackie

Mental health conditions are commonly stigmatized in real-life and in media. However, film and television often rely on addiction as a trope to villainous antagonist characters, without any viable commentary on living and recovering from addiction.

Even as the protagonist of her series, other characters sometimes perceive Jackie as a bit of a bad guy. However, Nurse Jackie shows an accurate representation of addiction, recovery, and mental health surrounding substance abuse.

It takes Jackie awhile before she even admits to herself that she’s addicted to narcotics, and we even see the means she’ll take to get ahold of medication. However, Jackie dismantles a hackneyed depiction of a person who’s addicted to any substance. Instead of any of the various stereotypes about people who are addicts, from being homeless or underemployed directly or indirectly because of their mental health (because addiction is a mental health condition), the series shows Jackie as a successful nurse and caring mother.

Nurse Jackie also shows the duality between medication and drugs to show they can be easily helpful and just as easily abused. Jackie’s daughter, Grace, has a generalized anxiety disorder. As the show plays on the duality between Grace’s Xanax and how it helps regulate her anxiety, it shows Jackie’s continual battle against her addiction. The series understands that recovering from any kind of addiction is a continual process, and it doesn’t dismiss Jackie’s efforts to heal or her relapses.