HBO’s mental health warnings are what TV streaming services need

HBO improves its mental health performance for its viewers by providing pre-episode content warnings that provide links to mental health support services – especially if the TV show in question is potentially triggering content.

The so-called "bumpers" are to be presented before episodes of television shows such as "The Sopranos", "Girls", "Barry" and "Euphoria" as part of an internal initiative to reduce the stigma of mental health – probably for live broadcasts on HBOs TV station and its online platform HBO Now (via diversity).

Jason Mulderig, HBO's vice president of brand and product marketing, says, "HBO has always been at the forefront of storytelling complex characters, from the sopranos to the euphoria of mental health."

Mulderig adds, "We do not say" discretion is recommended to viewers. "We say" audience discussions are encouraged. "

It is also a nice allusion to World Mental Health Day – October 10 and today at the time of writing – a time when people around the world are encouraged to speak and share their experiences and struggles with mental illness.

Why is that important?

While it is normal to trigger warnings / content hints prior to a television program or movie, these are usually used as heads up for the events featured in the program rather than real life information to deal with similar conditions and illnesses.

These warnings are usually left to boards of directors such as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) or the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC), with more sophisticated information being left to the production studio itself, such as the Content Alerts for 13 reasons. one year after the first landing of the show, or the disclaimer at the start of Netflix's new show, The Politician, "for those who are struggling with their sanity" (pictured below). Proactive behavior of HBO itself, be it for TV broadcasts or on-demand streaming, was not a matter of course.

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Netflix's The Politician is now being streamed

(Credit: Netflix / Trustedreviews)

While no broadcaster or content provider should shy away from difficult issues – and while those of us who are struggling with mental illness will certainly want our experiences portrayed – it is easy to use mental illness as a means to increase dramatic engagements without Thinking about how they affect (or reflect) the lives of the audience.

A small change to be sure – but it's encouraging to see HBO thinking about the wellbeing of its user base.

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