Casting Call: Would You Discuss Your Mental Illness on Television?

Casting Call: Would You Discuss Your Mental Illness on Television?

I get asked all the time to connect TV producers with moms who have postpartum depression or anxiety. I generally always say no, because Postpartum Progress is against the exploitation of struggling mothers. It seems like the producers never want to portray a mom who has recovered, who is a symbol of hope and health. Instead they'll talk to a bunch of potential subjects and then choose the one who has the worst, scariest symptoms and is a sobbing mess. That bugs me; it's a way of subtly furthering stigma. Besides, once this mother recovers she may regret having participated during such an unstable and painful time in her life. I've become very wary of TV producers and casting agents because of how I've seen them cover the subject of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders over the years.

I still fear reality shows about mental illness. I want so very badly for them to help and not hurt. I hope the producers and directors and everyone involves thinks carefully about their editing and how said editing is portraying not only an individual, but the mental illness as a whole. My anxiety disorder is different than anyone else's anxiety disorder because of my personality and how hard I'm trying to treat it and myriad other environmental factors (I have access to healthcare, healthy food and eight hours of sleep at night). We are all different, and we must be careful to remember this when talking about mental illness. That said, I still answer all those emails even though I'm not a medical professional. I answer because I remember how it felt to be so lost that you'd reach out to a complete stranger. So I'm setting aside my worries and letting you all know about this show that is currently recruiting. They are looking for 18-40-year-old women. I've been told they will provide free mental health assistance. If you're interested, here's a link to their casting survey.

Would you ever go on reality television to talk about a health concern, mental health or otherwise?

Rita Arens is the author of the young adult novel The Obvious Game & the deputy editor of Find more at

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