Division 53 | SCCAP Statement on 13 Reasons Why

SCCAP Statement on 13 Reasons Why
For Immediate Release: May 4, 2017
Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology
Contact: Tamara Moore / tmoore@thereisgroup.com/ 202.868.4008
The Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology Comments on Netflix Show
Clinical Child Psychologists Concerned About Impact of the Show
WASHINGTON (May 2, 2017) –The Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology shares the concerns of other children’s mental health organizations about 13 Reasons Why, a series on Netflix that depicts – in great detail – teenage sexual assault, bullying, and suicide. While the show serves as a “conversation starter” for mental illness and suicide, it fails to demonstrate the availability of evidence-based mental healthcare.
The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 20 percent of children will develop a mental health disorder in their lifetime, affecting 17.1 million children in the United States alone. Many of the behavioral problems or mental health symptoms that interfere with children and adolescents’ ability to lead happy, successful lives can be effectively treated with therapy. With such treatments, psychologists help parents and children learn how to work better and live more comfortably with others, and to build the skills and habits that help them succeed in school and in life.
Unfortunately, the portrayal of mental healthcare in the show is limited, and those instances that are shown may discourage youth from seeking help or advice from adults and counselors. When the main character, Hannah, does seek help from her counselor, she is let down by his ineptitude. Depicting mental health professionals in this light sends the wrong message to teens who may be considering speaking to a teacher, a counselor, or even a parent.
Additionally, Hannah suffers from traumatic experiences, demonstrates numerous symptoms of depression, and ultimately decides to take her own life. Yet, the series misses the opportunity to teach teens about mental health, how to spot the signs of a friend in trouble, and how to seek help. A more responsible approach would have been to provide information at the end of each episode with resources for teens about how to deal with these issues and seek help. Instead, the series leaves the viewer with no resources or advice for dealing with these complex issues.
There are effective, evidence-based treatments available for depression and suicide. While the show has started many conversations about mental illness, it is time for those conversations to lead to information about effective mental healthcare. Netflix’s latest decision to add a warning before the first episode and to strengthen the messaging and resource language for episodes with graphic subject matter doesn't go far enough. Netflix needs to help guide these conversations by offering fans resources to find evidence-based help and care at multiple touch points throughout the series. Many of these resources can be found on the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology’s website at www.EffectiveChildTherapy.org
The Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology(SCCAP) leads the advancement and practice of evidence-based therapies based on psychological science. The society promotes scientific inquiry, training, professional practice and public policy reform as a means of improving the welfare and mental health of children, youth and families. As a section of the American Psychological Association, its members include nearly 3,000 clinical child and adolescent psychologists, trainees and other mental health professionals. More information on the Society for Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology is available at www.clinicalchildpsychology.org. Information on the evidence-based approaches to treat life stressors and mental disorders in children and adolescents is available at www.effectivechildtherapy.org.