13 Reasons Why: Media’s Failure to Uphold Mental Health Issues

Warning: Spoilers, Curse Words, and a Lot of Ranting

13 Reasons Why is the most popular series of the season. I scrolled through the News Feed of my social media and saw all the advertisements promoting the show. Jay Asher, the writer of the standalone novel, has also been involved in the production of the series, which pretty much stands for how accurate and integrated this is with how it would be depicted in modern day.

The Netflix series has received so many positive reviews about the series. I mean, who has the balls to produce a series based on 13 tapes that tell a story of a girl who is led to kill herself. But hello? Newsflash, the production was based on a book, not on an original idea.

But let’s take the bullshit out. Take all the popularity of this series out and consider the deeper issue that’s involved.

Initially, society perceived mental health as a form of demonic possession that resulted in deviant behaviors that the Church said was dangerous. Thus began the construction of asylums, where patients were mercilessly treated: Imagine no beds, being chained to the floor, or possibly even starving the patients out. This was slowly eradicated in the 1800’s, when individuals began to speak out against the inhumane treatment towards the mental health patients. However, few medical staff would be unwilling to stay in mental health hospitals; hence, this drew out criticism from several people.

It was only around the 1900’s that people began to consider other options in treating individuals: either through outpatient services, providing medication without completely compromising the individual’s functioning, and the like.

In the Philippines, mental health was only fully brought up around the early 1900’s; as a result, hospitals have began to cater to individuals who were mentally ill. One of the most popular mental health centers is National Center for Mental Health in Mandaluyong, composed of 28 pavilions housing different cases of mental illnesses (schizophreania, bipolar, personality disorders, etc). Psychiatry is still slowly clawing its way up the ladder, with only a limited number of doctors in the said specialty who are available to its patients. Psychology is also another matter: The Psychological Association of the Philippines was only established in 1962, which still continues to struggle to make its mark on Philippine communities not only around the country, but also across the globe.

Okay, moving on to Thirteen Reasons Why.

Contrary to Popular Opinion? IT’S COMPLETE BULLSHIT. 

Alright, hear me out. No, I have nothing against mental health. I actually am an advocate of mental health, even going as far as studying for the sake of helping other people who are in need of that. Lord knows how many Filipinos need someone who can help them cope with emotional troubles which have continually shown up in their lives.

My problem with thirteen reasons why is the depiction of the story in social media. This has been so twisted up in a way that it makes it seem as if the dead girl, Hannah, wanted someone to love her so that she could be saved. My question? Does everyone want that when they feel depressed?

They need compassion. They need help. They need reassurance. Sure, love might help. But the one thing every individual needs is reassurance when they’ve gone down the rabbit hole. And while I do commend the show for depicting bullying in its most raw form, I think that the message was never truly exposed to its viewers.

Before you say anything, I don’t completely blame the viewers. I blame the bias that media has created for its viewers. Why? Media has transitioned from providing information to its viewers, to entertaining its viewers. While this is a good way to show a bit of positive vibe to one’s life, it’s not supposedly a good idea to mix it in to a show that is based on a book that directly addresses the issue that emphasizes the importance of being aware of mental health.

What happened?

We all know the rise and fall of monthly memes, especially for this day. Take this for example:

Image may contain: 1 person, sitting and text

Dude, really? This is a bit pathetic. 

Maybe some of you will start thinking “Don’t be dramatic, this is just a meme. It’s supposed to be a joke”. Maybe some of you may begin to roll your eyes and close this tab so that you can move on to more entertaining blog posts that ship Hannah and Clay. Maybe even talk about Bryce’s hot abs, or maybe even about how you all hate Jessica (if my recall of names is correct). But maybe you’re all missing the one person you need to think about: Hannah.

Do I need to break it down for you? It would be my pleasure.

Hannah Baker was said to be the new girl in school; meaning, she may be used to the whole transfer to different schools because of her parents… But nonetheless, she’s still a teenager. Teenagers, or even people in general, have their own thoughts about being in a different environment. I mean, it’s human nature. You want to blend in, or make a good impression. It’s an element that has been established since people started talking about what’s hot and what’s not. What’s cool and uncool.

Or maybe what’s slutty and what’s not.

Think of it this way. You’re called out for something you didn’t do. You’re ridiculed, excluded, humiliated, and basically screwed at for this reputation that was force fed on you. AND you’re the new girl in school. What a fun start to the school year, right? Let’s be crystal clear and cut out the bullshit: Everyone’s pretty much cruel at one point or another, especially when they’re part of the student body. You would feel sad right? Upset? Angry? And we all need someone who can listen and understand those feelings.

Again, we don’t really need to fall in love.

We try to consult a professional. They dismiss us, saying that maybe the best way to do so is to let it go. But hello, you’re filled up to the brim with dealing with the brutalities of everyday life. Who can blame you? You’re adjusting, and then life fucks you up in the ass because of a reputation that you did not want to earn in the first place. You’ve been betrayed, left alone, and you’re not sure where else to escape to.

And here goes society, saying “you aren’t alone”. I do appreciate the efforts, but IT TAKES A SUICIDE TO MAKE YOU REALIZE THAT? HAS SOCIETY GONE SO FAR DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE THAT THEY NEED SOMETHING TERRIBLE TO HAPPEN?

Oh, and don’t forget people who blame Hannah for not doing something herself. SHE WAS ALONE AND SHE HAD TO COPE WITH IT UNTIL SHE COULDN’T DO IT ANYMORE. NO ONE UNDERSTANDS AN INDIVIDUAL COMPLETELY. NO ONE.

I think what makes me hate this show even more is that the media’s depiction of mental health is so raw and so true to life that it fails to consider the implications of this to its viewers. I appreciate how it deviates from the usual display of mental health. But seriously? I’ve read the book, and I know how it ends. I’ve seen acquaintances who have been shaken by the whole series.

Yes, it may awaken society with its true-to-life depiction of suicide, but they could have done a better job at it. Because something so heavy must not increase the chances of them going down the spiral. It’s absolutely irresponsible for media.

I’m not going to force people to stop watching 13 Reasons Why.

But I do hope they are aware of the true issue that it irresponsibly brought up. And that they should know that it goes much deeper than listening to 13 tapes recorded by a dead girl.

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