I just watched my 3rd episode of “Chicago Med”….yet another brilliant TV show created by Dick Wolf of “Law & Order” fame. My only regret was not discovering this show sooner! This show has a thoughtfully-written script and characters realistically portrayed by a great cast in a way that–much like “House” in its first season–draws you into each episode. Oliver Platt plays the Chief of Psychiatry at Chicago Med, and I think he’s doing an awesome job! The best part about “Chicago Med,” IMO, is the fact that it’s the only show, as far I’m aware, that affords a weekly story line delving into the realm of mental health. Yes, MENTAL HEALTH. There are multiple story lines happening concurrently with the cast, but from I’ve seen from the 3 episodes I’ve watched, the focus of each week’s episode is primarily about a situation involving mental health. Not just an occasional acknowledgment here and there during a whole television season that yes, there are health issues that aren’t entirely medical in nature (think Dr. House and his addiction to vicodin for his “pain”) but a FULL story line each and every week dedicated to at least one person struggling with a mental health issue.
Finally, prime time television is taking a serious stab at shedding light on mental health! For that, I am grateful. You know why? Because we need to talk more about mental health conditions.
Depression…..PTSD…….Suicide……Obsessive Compulsive Disorder…..Bipolar Disorder….Self Harm….Eating Disorders…..Postpartum Depression…..Sociopathy……Borderline Personality Disorder…..Schizophrenia……etc.
Every single person out there knows someone who has experienced one or more of these mental health issues. You wouldn’t know that, though, because the tendency is for people to hide these things thanks to misconceptions spawned by the very little that we do know about them.
Thank you, “Chicago Med,” for shining a light on mental health. I look forward to future episodes, and hope that more and more people will start watching the show. My hope is that “Chicago Med” will prompt other show producers/directors to create more shows like this, realizing the need to make mental health a part of our daily discourse and encourage discussions and curiosity about these conditions and create a mentality that “Hey, a mental health condition deserves to be diagnosed and treated the same way as, say, diabetes or a heart condition.”
Keeping mental health conditions swept under a rug and a mystery from the public creates a taboo mentality that mental health conditions don’t deserve to be treated and you should just “snap out of it” or stop imagining that you even have any kind of condition in the first place. Part of the problem is that mental health conditions are, as quoted in the episode tonight, “invisible.” In tonight’s episode, Dr. Ethan Choi (played by Brian Tee) continues to battle the effects of his PTSD from serving in the military. His girlfriend Vicki makes a reference to mental health conditions as being difficult to diagnose/treat because they don’t necessarily exhibit any physical symptoms and/or there doesn’t appear to be a medical explanation for those symptoms. Modern medicine and technologies are making headway–albeit slowly- in assisting doctors and psychiatrists to confirm and/or make diagnoses via brain scans. The patient under Dr. Choi’s care in tonight’s episode appeared to also be a victim of PTSD from being in combat, but it was through Dr. Choi’s keen observations that they ultimately determined the patient had excessive scar tissues near his heart that caused the sound of his heart beating to echo loudly in the poor guy’s head. So, he wasn’t imagining things and he most certainly wasn’t suffering from PTSD like he was insisting from the beginning! And of course, no one believed him! This is where I applaud the writers for writing a script that shows that, even though someone may appear to be suffering from a mental health condition, you can’t assume that there isn’t a physical or medical explanation for what the person is experiencing until you take the time to determine the root cause for a patient’s experience. Just like depression has a scientific explanation, like a hormonal and/or neurotransmitter imbalance, there is a biological explanation behind every mental health disorder. And it’s the task of research scientists to figure that all out, and I pray they hurry the heck up because we are losing too many people each year to mental illnesses!
I end this blog post with a call for “Chicago Med” to include an episode or two on postpartum depression. We desperately need an episode that informs the public of the difference between postpartum depression and other postpartum conditions like postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis and postpartum bipolar. Please, please, please, Dick Wolf and team of writers: please reach out to Postpartum Support International today and collaborate together on a series of episodes on postpartum mood disorders.
If you look at the statistics, how can people NOT produce more shows on a topic that touches so many lives?