Book or Movie Review

Mental Health Representation in Big Mouth

Being able to bring awareness to mental health is crucial to breaking the stigma that surrounds this subject. Nick Kroll‘s Netflix Original Series, Big Mouth, is a great example of how depression appears and disappears in Jesse’s life, how anxiety can leave someone like Nick unable to complete daily tasks due to intense dread, and how these mental health issues can impact loved ones around us. By comparing the depictions in this show to real life examples from reputable health organizations and from personal testimonies from fans of the show, this will help viewers be able to determine what needs to change so that mental health is accurately represented and hopefully inspire viewers to find expressive outlets for their mental health.

In the show, Jessie Glaser is the first of the main cast to be depicted with a mental health issue: depression. Depression is personified as a large purple cat named Kitty; throughout season 2, viewers witness Kitty making things Jessie once enjoyed difficult to continue to do. In episode 10 of this season, Kitty can be seen climbing on top of Jessie, making it difficult to breath. This is an example of how depression can make it challenging to get up out of bed, and how its possible to lose yourself in your struggles. Throughout the show, we see Jessie overcome her depression overtime, which is a great representation of how some days are better than others when living with depression. Justice Namaste from Bustle examines how some of the symptoms of depression, such as moodiness, can be dismissed as normal pre-teen actions rather than a real mental health issue.

During the entirety of season 3, viewers see Nick struggle with anxiety; Tito the Mosquito is the personification of anxiety and how it can be buzzing persistently in the background. Mayo Clinic describes anxiety as having an impending sense of danger or panic, sweating, trouble breathing, and trying to avoid anything that may cause an anxiety attack to occur. In episode 3 of this season, viewers see Nick run into the woods while at summer camp as he experiences Tito worrying about every small mistake Nick has ever made and how it will impact the rest of his life.

Both Nick and Jessie overcome their respective mental health disorders through the help of their friends: Jessie is literally saved by her friends who tell her to speak up when she is suffering with a depressive episode, so she doesn’t have to struggle alone. Nick’s anxiety attack is redirected when he runs into his friend, Andrew having a crisis as well. Both boys work through their internal conflicts together and overcome them.

In the end, showing mental health in television shows and movies helps normalize these issues. By showing people they are not alone in their struggles can influence people to reach out to get help from friends and professionals, as well as potentially inspiring them to find creative outlets to channel their thoughts into.

Deane Reaves
Student Representative, High Plains Region, 2022-2023
Alpha Theta Beta Chapter
Friends University, Wichita, KS


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