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9 Great Representations of Health Conditions in Modern Media

Editor's Note

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Not all representation is good representation, especially in the health community.

So often the media serves abled, neurotypical individuals where trauma porn and stigma fuels disability, chronic illness, and mental health rep which can lead to more harm, violence, and worse patient care for the people who need it. 

That being said, there’s some darn good representation out there for people with different health conditions.

Curious, The Mighty asked their health community about their favorite health-related representation in the media. 

Here’s what they had to say:

Mental Health

“While I am bipolar and do not have schizophrenia, I think the representation of mental illness in ‘A Beautiful Mind’ was so perfect. First, we, the audience, also experience the hallucinations as if they were real for the first half of the movie. They also show many aspects of mental illness generally and how treatment works. His sex drive is affected by the medicine. Stress makes his symptoms worse. The medication allows him to better control his symptoms but they never completely go away. His work is severely impacted by his illness. Very realistic.” – Mandy P

“It’s an oldie but goodie – Richard Gere in ‘Mr Jones.’ I thought his portrayal of being a manic depressive person (bipolar) was really good.” – @VioletCD

“An old episode of ‘Titans’ saw a psychiatrist label Batman as living with borderline personality disorder. First somewhat positive aspect to this thing I’ve ever seen in media.” – Rodney W.

“I know that everyone does not like anime, but if you want to give it a chance, ‘March Comes in Like a Lion’ (right now on Netflix) is the very best for depicting depression. Not only is the artwork beautiful and calming, the show deals with depression, PTSD, damaging family relationships, bullying, and leads you to resolutions in peace.” – Sarah J.

“The ‘Modern Love’ episode with Anne Hathaway depicting (an albeit too quick turnaround of) bipolar disorder I. Really good though.” -@Tiffanyokyeah 

“I don’t have fibro but the book ‘Get a Life, Chloe Brown’ was so great for chronic illness rep, same with ‘The Matzah Ball’ and any of Chloe Liese’s books (neurodiversity, chronic illness, disability, deafness).” – Kat H.

Chronic Illness

“‘Firestarter’ by Stephen King. The descriptions of migraine was so dead on I cried because I’ve never really been able to put my chronic, ever changing, migraine pain into words when doctors or people ask me. It’s dead on with the idiopathic stabbing migraines, aka Icepick migraines, too. Of course they are called headaches in the book and ice pick migraines didn’t have a name back then but King gets it truly right. Also the song ‘Migraine’  by Twenty-one Pilots. It’s the only song I can rap and I tend to use it to cope with my migraines when I’m waiting for meds to kick in lol.” – Erin F.

“Best book: ‘Breaking Thru the Fibro Fog’ by Kevin P. White, MD, PhD” – @Priscillaanthony 

Disability

“‘Inside I’m Dancing’ is a brilliant film depicting the real story of two friends. One has muscular dystrophy and the other has cerebral palsy. The actors who play the characters are ‘real’ people with disabilities! So the representation of the two disabilities is exceptional.” – @Lucie_mitchell 

There’s still work to be done, as we would love for this list to be pages long. 

How can the media better serve the health community? What do you feel is missing? What would you like depictions of your condition to look like? 

Share with our community below.

These answers have been slightly modified to adhere to The Mighty’s editorial guidelines. For the original answers and more, please see the original post.

Getty image by Marko Geber

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