We all deal with mental health in some form, whether that be depression, anxiety, stress, addiction and trauma, to name a few things millions if not billions of people suffer from, so why doesn’t the worlds biggest and most well-known entertainment brand Disney, show mental health and depression in their Disney+ Originals? Note: I will be talking about why Disney needs to represent mental health and depression, but this is NOT me asking for Disney’s 13 Reasons Why (mostly because that show radicalises mental health and I was never able to finish the series due to it causing me to have a mental breakdown after the first episode). Now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s discuss this topic.
Disney IS A Children’s Brand, Supposedly:
Let’s get this argument out of the way really quick, in 2014, almost 20% of people in the UK aged 16 and older showed signs of depression or anxiety. Disney has always been perceived as a children’s brand, but that doesn’t mean Disney can’t make some maturer content on Disney+ alone. They have original films like Clouds and Safety, which cover slightly maturer topics than your average DCOM, but it shows Disney is willing to tackle maturer topics if they feel there is an audience for it. For clarification, Safety is rated PG and is about a college football player taking on the guardian and carer responsibilities for his younger brother when their mother goes into rehab, and Clouds is a PG13 film about a teenage musician dying from a rare form of cancer and how he sets out to achieve his dreams before he dies, so why not make a movie about someone struggling with a mental health condition?
But I Don’t Want Disney Teaching My Kids To Jump Off A Bridge:
To anyone who came to this conclusion, let me explain. I’m not saying Disney needs to have a movie where the main character or someone close to them gets depressed and jumps of a bridge. This is Disney, not Netflix. What I am saying is Disney could have a TV series or movie for Disney+ where one of the main characters deals with depression but aren’t suicidal. If Disney looks at this logically, they could go through the other symptoms of depression and have a character deal with them, including feelings of worthlessness, tearfulness, short temper, memory loss and sleep disorders, to name a few, nobody is saying we need a Disney princess teaching kids to jump to their death, what I’m saying is it’ll help other teens and young adults to try to help each other more.
I Don’t Want Disney Making Their Own 13 Reasons Why:
Yeah, neither do I. If you read my disclaimer at the top, you’d know I couldn’t even finish the first season. This is an argument which only exists due to people seeing Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and not understanding how it radicalised the idea of mental health and depression. Disney wouldn’t do that. If Disney decides to show characters dealing with depression but not radicalising that character to the point they’re trying to take their own life. Here’s an example of how Disney could deal with it a young teenager around thirteen or fourteen comes from an abusive home and is depressed because of it. They decide to tell their friends who decide to do whatever they can to make them feel happy, now try and tell me that doesn’t sound like a series that Disney would slap their logo on.
Why This Is Important:
Disney+ has already amassed over 100 Million subscribers worldwide. Now consider how many of those subscribers have children who are between the ages of 12 and 18 who also suffer from mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Now you see where I’m going with this? Disney already has a couple of original shows that could insert characters with depression and/or anxiety. Those shows include High School Musical: The Musical: The Series or Diary Of A Future President or Mighty Ducks Game Changers or Big Shot.
Disney is a worldwide brand, and it feels as if Disney could use the fact Disney+ is a smash hit across the globe as a way to promote speaking up about mental health as the more big companies like Disney keep quiet about it, the less likely those struggling will ever speak up and ask for help. Disney should create a Disney+ Original, whether it be a series, a movie or even a short, which directly tackles mental health and says it’s ok to not be ok and doing it in a way that acknowledges the issue could save millions of people annually.
Disney would be using its brand to try and teach kids to open up about mental health and depression. Disney wouldn’t be teaching kids to harm themselves. They would be teaching kids to talk about their problems before they go past the point of no return, whether that’s through a TV spinoff of Pixar’s Inside Out or an original show/movie or even just by adding a character who suffers into an already existing Disney+ show.
What do you think? Should Disney use Disney+ as a way to open a proper conversation about mental health to its audience?
You can find me on Twitter @/realENHolloway.