What Critics Got Wrong About ‘13 Reasons Why’

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13 Reasons Why, the newest Netflix success, is still causing controversy. Critics welcomed the show with warm reviews on March 31st, but, as the series’s hype increased, there was some backlash and disapproval of the depiction of the main character’s depression and ultimate decision to end her life. The show, however, was responsible for bringing awareness to mental health problems, mainly those most common with teenagers.

The show is based on a 2007 book of the same name by Jay Asher. The story is about Hannah Baker, a 17-year-old girl, who, after struggling with depression, psychological and physical abuse for over a year, decides to kill herself. Before dying, Hannah records 13 tapes in which she discloses the 13 reasons why she killed herself. The reasons, however, are all people.

Critics questioned the way the Netflix show depicted the aftermath of Hannah’s suicide. Some said the series expressed the idea that suicide is inevitable because the people surrounding Hannah felt a sense of helpless about her situation. They were not able to help her or prevent her from killing herself because she was already dead by the time they understood she needed help. Instead, Hannah’s acquaintances were only able to agonize over her tapes and feel guilty for being one of her “reasons.” Continue reading What Critics Got Wrong About ‘13 Reasons Why’

How Changing Masculinity Is Good For Mental Health

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Men are statistically less likely than women to seek help for mental health and to celebrate Men’s Health Week we’re highlighting issues specifically related to men and their mental health.

There’s a scene at the beginning of Anchorman when the narrator talks about the seventies, a time when, “only men were allowed to read the news.”

It’s said in earnest, in a deep, booming voice, and you get the impression the man behind the mic longs for that lost, halcyon era. It’s also meant to be a joke. The kind of thing we laugh about now because the character the film goes on to lionize is quite clearly a jackass. Burgundy’s misogyny and toxic masculinity is something we look back on almost fondly because we imagine we’ve progressed beyond his willful ignorance.

Of course, toxic masculinity has a ways to go before it disappears. There remains a huge number of men driven by insecurity and a mix of hatred and fear of women. It would be foolhardy to swaddle ourselves in the belief that gender issues are a thing of the past in our society.

Continue reading How Changing Masculinity Is Good For Mental Health

Why Men Don’t Deal With Mental Health

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Men are statistically less likely than women to seek help for mental health and to celebrate Men’s Health Week we’re highlighting issues specifically related to men and their mental health.  

One of the biggest challenges that men face is dealing with their mental health. Frequently men cope with mental health issues in unhealthy ways including substance abuse, self-medication, anger, aggression, and isolation. Six million men in the United States suffer from depression, and that number increases each year. Some young men (more so than young women) also develop schizophrenia, a debilitating mental health condition that includes detachment from reality and emotional instability. Despite the growing epidemic, men tend to be reluctant to talk about it.

I understand the challenges men face all too well. For most of my life, I wasn’t aware that my depression was tied into masculinity and the way that men often think about their mental health. In my life, when I feel emasculated from rejection or failure, especially romantically, I experience severe depression.

As I’ve become aware of my own mental health issues, and continue to talk about it with my therapist, I’ve experienced increased happiness and well-being. Most importantly, I’ve felt more masculine than ever before.

Continue reading Why Men Don’t Deal With Mental Health

It’s Time To Retire These Self-Harm Alternatives

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I started self-injuring when I was 17-years-old, the result of not knowing how to manage the overwhelming emotions accompanying years of sexual abuse by a teacher. Self-injury became my way of expressing extreme feelings of fear, anger, sadness, hopelessness, shame, and a complete loss of control. Over time, self-injury became the only way I knew how to deal with emotions, and I didn’t know what else to do.

When I decided I wanted to stop self-harming, the only information I could find advised me to color on my arms with markers, snap a rubber band on my wrist or hold an ice cube. If I was angry, the suggestions were to “get it out” by punching pillows, ripping magazines or throwing ice against a wall.

Well, in short, drawing on my arms with red marker only increased my desire to see real blood and holding ice cubes didn’t hurt enough. At the end of the day, all I wanted to do was cut or burn for real. And I still felt overwhelmed.

It turns out I’m not alone in this experience, and these popular substitute self-injury alternatives are partly to blame. Continue reading It’s Time To Retire These Self-Harm Alternatives

The History of Hysteria: Sexism in Diagnosis

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The female body has long been misunderstood. Women are often misdiagnosed by doctors, either due to the belief that they are over-dramatizing symptoms or because of a lack of adequate research on illnesses predominantly faced by women. As frustrating as this is, it’s no new phenomenon.

Dating back to 1900 BC Egypt, an ancient medical document known as the Eber Papyrus contained references to hysterical disorders thought to be caused by abnormal movements of the uterus. In the 5th Century BC, Hippocrates was the first to coin the term “hysteria” and agreed with his predecessors that this so-called condition — attributable only to women — was due to a “wandering womb,” believed to be caused by sexual inactivity. Recommended cures were, naturally, that women should increase sexual activity within the bounds of marriage. This diagnosis was not founded in science or medical research (though that may seem obvious now), but in gender bias against women and their experience of emotions and the perceived lack of sexual interest.

As currently defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary, hysteria is, “behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess.” An alternate, psychiatric definition is, “a psychoneurosis marked by emotional excitability and disturbances of the psychogenic, sensory, vasomotor, and visceral functions.” While the definition of hysteria might seem broad, it has also altered over time. While medicine and mental health have changed a great deal over the centuries, hysteria is a historically gendered diagnosis that often served as a catch-all when doctors couldn’t identify another illness. It was extremely common to find women labelled as “hysterical” defined more by their stature as women than by their symptoms. Continue reading The History of Hysteria: Sexism in Diagnosis

The History of LGBTQ Conversion Therapy

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In 1965, TIME magazine published an article titled “Homosexuals Can Be Cured.” The article focused on the “triumphant” results of group therapy work led by psychiatrist Samuel Hadden, who was also a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School at the time. Hadden had been leading long-term (four to eight year) therapy sessions for men who identified as homosexual in the hopes of “curing” them of their sexual “perversions.”

TIME’s article celebrated Hadden’s ability to help men work through their “symptoms” of “illness”—whether that was wearing inappropriately feminine clothing or being sexually interested in men instead of women. Hadden was only one of many esteemed psychiatrists and psychologists to consider — and treat — homosexuality as a sickness during the 1960s. In fact, homosexuality was not removed from the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders” [DSM] until 1973.

The pathologizing of homosexuality was not, however, contextually specific to 20th century America. Many of the earliest writings condemning homosexual acts as “unnatural” caught on in 12th century Europe, when religious leaders like Saint Thomas Aquinas denounced homosexuality as a sin in their early writings. Popular disdain against homosexuality, began in the realm of religion, but it quickly moved into the legal arena in centuries to come. Continue reading The History of LGBTQ Conversion Therapy

The Stigma of Asking for a Mental Health Day

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In an ideal world, taking a mental health day would be simple. Imagine this: You could have 10 per year and use them at your discretion. Or maybe you work at a small company that doesn’t have a formal system for taking time off. In that case it should be as straightforward as talking to your supervisor about why you need one.

You tell your supervisor your depression is acting up. Perhaps your anxiety disorder has been eating you alive lately. Your strained mental health is affecting your productivity, so you need a day off to tend to it, to heal and return with renewed vigor.

She says, “Sure.” There are no questions or judgments, and she is comfortable with you being open about your mental health. She understands the importance of caring for your mental wellness and trusts you are not taking advantage of the policy. Continue reading The Stigma of Asking for a Mental Health Day

‘Snowflake’ – A New Insult for People Who Go to Therapy

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Since the end of the 2016 election and the beginning of Trump’s presidency, there is one insult that has become increasingly frequent: “snowflake,” a slang term for an overly sensitive, politically correct, stereotypically liberal person (more often millennials than people of all ages). These days there are many conservative Internet-goers and Trump supporters who use it to put down or provoke anyone they disagree with.

We’re not involved in politics, yet people often throw this word our way. If you’re familiar with Talkspace, it might be because you saw one of our ads on Facebook. These ads are great for reminding people they have the opportunity to work with a therapist in a way that might be more affordable and convenient for them.

The only problem with the ads is they reach some mean-spirited people across the Internet. Some of these people leave rude comments. They insult those who are considering trying Talkspace. We frequently see the declaration that anyone who uses Talkspace or goes to therapy is a snowflake. Continue reading ‘Snowflake’ – A New Insult for People Who Go to Therapy

This Therapist Debunks 4 Popular Myths About Going to Therapy

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Therapy with a licensed professional is becoming more mainstream. Thanks to online therapy, millions more people are trying therapy for the first time.

There are, however, still some popular myths that often prevent people from going to therapy. As a licensed therapist who has helped clients move past these myths, I wanted to take some time to point them out and debunk them. Continue reading This Therapist Debunks 4 Popular Myths About Going to Therapy

#StopStigma: A Blogger Opens Up About Her Depression

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For Mental Health Awareness Month, we asked some of our favorite bloggers to share their personal mental health stories to help #StopStigma. The more people speaking out about mental illness, the more people will know they aren’t alone in their struggles. Our aim is to encourage our Talkspace community and the broader mental health community to share their stories in a snowball effect, blasting stigma and breaking the silence.

This Is How I Struggle, By Kelly Bishop

You feel like you’re standing in your own way. So many things in your life should make you happy, yet you struggle to feel those elated emotions. It makes you hate yourself because you can’t let what is in front of you bring happiness. It’s not like you’re taking anything for granted, but it feels like you are, only because you’re as sad as ever when you shouldn’t be. Continue reading #StopStigma: A Blogger Opens Up About Her Depression