The warnings shown before movies or TV episodes typically focus on violence or other graphic material which viewers might find upsetting. However, since we can’t be treated like adults by corporations, HBO wants to display “bumpers” before episodes that portray characters experiencing mental health issues, giving viewers information about accessing available support services.
The shows that HBO will be adding bumpers to include Barry, Euphoria, Girls and The Sopranos, which tackle themes like addiction, obsessive-compulsive disorder, trauma, and anxiety. Netflix did something similar with the show 13 Reasons Why which includes the suicide of a teenager.
This is part of the “It’s OK” initiative, through which the network wants to raise awareness about mental health issues and reduce stigma.
In addition to the warnings, HBO will also be introducing a series of short videos called “Doctor Commentaries,” in which clinicians will discuss the portrayal of mental health issues in its shows. The first episode looks at scenes from Girls and is presented by mental health advocate and clinical psychologist Dr. Ali Mattu. I’m guessing you can’t fast forward the bumpers.
The larger question is this: Is it the job of an entertainment company to pitch mental health to us or do we just want the entertainment?