Animated characters tell mental health journeys

Whether it’s finding relaxation or a sense of understanding, animation can be influential

Art by @RESLUS

Art by @RESLUS

Some of my fondest childhood memories involve watching animated cartoons and movies with my brother. It was the first time my imagination came to life, giving me a sense of creativity. 

I found it intriguing and many questions began revolving in my tiny seven-year-old brain like how they managed to create cartoon characters, if they could possibly come to life, and if they were real. I thought watching animation was seeing my comic and fairytale books coming to life in a movie or a T.V. show, but I was not aware about how animation was actually shaping the way I thought. 

Animated movies are enjoyed by kids as well as adults, attracting a diverse audience. Time and again, animation has proved to be helpful in educating and promoting mental health. It helps us communicate our emotions, connect with the audience, and tell our story to the world. 

There is also a theory about how each Disney princess is related to a psychological illness. For example, Snow White is associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Rapunzel with Bipolar Disorder, Anna with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and so on. Every princess associated with an illness gets her happy ending, helping people to keep going and giving them hope that they will also have a happy ending. 

Aside from princess movies, Ratatouille tells the story of protagonist Remy, a rat trying to break the societal norm and pursue his passion for cooking. Remy faces many societal challenges and expectations but still ends up doing what he loves the most. This is encouraging for many people who are trying to break the stereotype and pursue their passion. 

Animations that involve real life mental health issues can increase awareness, reduce stereotypical stigmas, and foster empathy and kindness in people. When people who are going through similar issues watch these animated movies or T.V. shows, they find it relatable, especially when watching something they’re going through depicted in a respectful manner. 

The 2015 animated movie Inside Out portrays different emotions as characters including Joy, Fear, Anger, Sadness, and Disgust. It is a way of sending out messages of how people think they have to be happy all the time, but it is okay to express other feelings. This movie is a way to normalize having emotional experiences and expressing them without being bound to personal or social expectations. This movie helps adults as well as kids understand their emotions. 

Some animated films and T.V. shows also cover issues like bullying and social anxiety with a goal to reach out to people and spread awareness, like Toy Story 3, which touches on themes of growing up, abandonment, and bullying. 

Overall, animation immerses us into a world far away from problems and anxieties, helping to cope with and improve mental health.