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HBO is taking measures to bring mental health support directly to its viewers while addressing current hot-button issues.
“In Treatment,” an HBO original drama series, returns to screens with a modern-day approach tackling the global pandemic and social and cultural issues, 10 years after the last season aired. A dynamic Black woman therapist is now the lead role in the revived show.
Emmy winner Uzo Aduba who acted in “Mrs. America” and “Orange is the New Black,” stars as Dr. Brooke Taylor, the therapist at the center of season four. She supports a trio of patients portrayed by Anthony Ramos, John Benjamin Hickey and Quintessa Swindell, with Liza Colon Zayas playing Dr. Taylor’s a longtime friend and confidant.
As part of the advocacy efforts, cast members and executive directors of the show teamed up with the National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York City (NAMI) for a panel discussion to explore mental health in May.
“I hope we just provide another branch of resource for people in our community,” Aduba said while on the panel. “There is of course family and friends as a source of outreach, there’s of course also our faith leaders as a source of outreach, but also there’s this branch of therapy as a source of outreach.”
They touched on navigating through various resources, reducing stigma within the Black community and the importance of representation within the series.
“We found ourselves with a platform that we were able to portray the therapeutic experience in a different way,” said Executive Producer and Co-Showrunner Joshua Allen.
Matt Kudish, executive director of NAMI of NYC, highlighted one study that found that 63 percent of Black individuals believe a mental health condition is a sign of personal weakness.
“Our faces are different this season,” said Executive Producer and Co-Showrunner Jennifer Schuur. “Our lived experiences within our character’s lives are very different this season.”
Quintessa Swindell who acted in “Euphoria,” also stars as Laila, Dr. Taylor’s “distrustful, teenage client, struggling to carve out her own identity separate from her family’s overbearing expectations.”
“With Dr. Taylor, it’s kind of like oh here’s someone I can finally trust and I think there’s so many tiers to Laila as a character that are very nuance I’ve never really seen written out in a script like honestly before,” Swindell said. “I think those details and those nuance experiences and discussions in the show are so important to reach a large audience, but specifically within the Black experience and discussing that with Dr. Taylor is so important.”
In the show, Laila is a senior in high school and opens up about personal life challenges and family dynamics with Dr. Taylor.
“I think people having accessibility to that hopefully can give them a broader experience of what therapy is, what it can be, and who it can be for and the type of discussions that are permeated through the space,” Swindell said.
As part of their efforts, HBO has partnered with Ten Percent Happier to curate and share meditation guides matching the theme of the show and modeled after characters. Ten Percent Happier is also offering year-long subscriptions to their services for mental health workers and their clients.
HBO also launched their Therapy is for Everybody campaign, which sheds a light on inclusive and accessible therapy by promoting conversations and custom content from the “Council,” a curated group of 8-10 multicultural mental health professionals, influencers and mental health organizations.
“In Treatment” premiered on May 23 and runs every Sunday at 9 p.m. EST. The 24-episode season is also available to stream on HBO Max.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, please call: 1-833-HBO-NAMI or visit http://www.NAMI.org.
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