13 Reasons Why, a Netflix series, that quickly gained its popularity especially amongst teenagers and young adults. A series that covers graphically many heavy topics for young people, including suicide, sexual assault, substance abuse, online and in person bullying, and numerous struggles between friends when these issues are present. 13 Reasons Why challenged schools and parents to face these issues with limited resources to assist them in guiding their child through important and meaningful conversations about these issues.
For this mental health experts suggest that rather than parents banning their children from watching the show it is healthier to watch the series with them. This will reduce the possibility of the child to watch the show against their parents’ permission and if they need help they are afraid to seek it.
Moreover, it has been suggested that those who are at high risks of depression, anxiety and suicide to avoid watching this show as some scenes can trigger additional disturbance. Thus, this needs a careful monitoring, support and treatment.
As caregivers, watching the show with the child will help you to monitor the child’s reactions after every episode and gives the chance to reflect and discuss the content of the episode with the child in a more casual conversation. On the other hand if you don’t have the time to watch the show with the child then be curious to ask about the show and be open to talk about in a way that the child knows that s/he can talk to you should they have any queries.
Be aware that if the child is in a vulnerable place in their life monitor them well and also check on the child even after a few days after the child has watched the episode. This is because it may take a few days for the show to have an impact and also there could have been a reaction that resulted from discussions that would have taken place between peers.
Reassure the child that this is still a show and reality could be a different situation. Even if the show portrays realistic situations and the child can feel that s/he can relate, there are still various outcomes that results from the same situation.
As a caregiver get as much information of what is available so if the child asks for help you will know what needs to be done and who you need to reach out to. It is important that even the child has all the information needed like for example: Emergency help lines, contact numbers of mental health professionals, school counselling amongst others.
Now that this information has been provided it is important that as caregivers we tackle these sensitive and highly risky situations with care, empathy and promote a positive attitude.
Therisa Gambin is a psychology graduate who worked in the HR sector for the past 4 years. She decided to change her career path and thus is at present an intern at Willingness and will continue to focus on psychology practices.