LivingHeartstopper: mental health and bullying when 'coming out'

Heartstopper: mental health and bullying when 'coming out'

A simple, fresh and healthy love story between two teenagers with an approximate duration of 30 minutes for each episode that is captivating us all. It is based on the graphic novel published in 2016 by Alice Oseman .

The commitment to diversity

Teen series are becoming big hits in recent years. “ For 13 reasons ”, “ Sex Education ”, “ Elite ” are some of them that are committed to diversity and the approach to mental health. They are not only a reflection of the world we live in, but they are being a stimulus for new generations.

Do you remember your first great love?

HeartStopper will make you remember the story of your first great love, a story full of magical moments in which you can feel identified: that penetrating look, those hands about to touch, waiting to leave class to see the person you like that first kiss…

But this series goes one step further. It is the perfect instrument to provide more light to a story with homosexual , transgender and bisexual characters in a clear way, without shadows or hidden lives, with experiences full of empathy , kindness and active listening .

What can we learn from watching this series?

The HeartStopper series leaves us with a learning related to self-confidence, the support of our closest circle and the influence it has on our decisions but, without a doubt, it makes clear to us the effect that society can have in the LGTBI + world when We talk about mental health or bullying in adolescents.

School bullying in the LGTBI+ collective

The Spanish Ministry of the Interior collects in its latest 2019 report on the Evolution of Hate Crimes in Spain in which an increase of 7% in the number of crimes has been detected, specifically in those that are directed at people of different ideologies , ethnicity and sexual orientation and gender identity.

There is a disparity in the definition of homophobic harassment in terms of the authors, but it could be summarized as the set of negative dispositions towards people of non-normative sexual orientation.

Authors such as Garaigordobil , and Larrain are much more direct, saying that it is “a hostile attitude of aversion, which considers that a non-normative sexual orientation (homosexual, bisexual, transsexual…) is inferior and pathological, which is why it determines that people are sick. or unbalanced

The concept of LGTBphobia is currently being used as a term that refers to the fear and rejection of LGTBI+ people and that, by using it, aims to make all the identities that suffer from it more visible.

Victims are often hesitant to tell about their experience of bullying or not because they are not sure they will find shelter and support from family or friends . The emotional and social deterioration produces a state of alertness, fear and rejection of school, causing school absenteeism and poor performance.

In the HeartStopped series, there is a lesbian couple, Tara and Darcy, who deal with the most common experiences of a clandestine relationship until they decide to stop hiding their relationship and kiss at a party in front of the entire school. However, the fact of being openly visible as a lesbian begins to overwhelm Tara, who receives multiple messages through social networks.

Homophobia is not only perceived in the classroom, so there are many other behaviors that are perceived outside the school context. Now with access to social networks since adolescence, bullying is encouraged through digital technologies. We call this type of harassment cyberbullying .

What preventive measures can we take?

The figures provided are overwhelming, which makes it necessary to implement prevention strategies in which all the people who are part of the educational community participate to act against homophobic bullying and cyberbullying .

Among these measures, we can highlight:

  • Educational projects that promote coexistence, tolerance and respect.
  • Training for the teaching team in sexual and gender diversity.
  • And, in the same way, include this training in the educational curriculum.

According to Vanesa Jorge , Health Psychologist expert in Affirmative Psychology in Sexual and Gender Diversity; “ Prevention measures are essential for children, adolescents and young people to have safe and trusting environments that allow them to live their educational stage free of homophobia and transphobia, in the same way that they would contribute to establishing guidelines for their mental health care , avoiding the possible emotional and psychological damage that derives from bullying

The series is causing a furor among thirtysomethings who feel reflected by a story that they would have liked to have had at fifteen. The circle that surrounds the protagonist, Charlie, is diverse and close, favoring that he can discover and advance in each of his stages.

Even so, some stories remain to be finished, so after its successful broadcast, we all think that HeartStopper will have a second season.

Bibliographic references

Garaigordobil, M., & Larrain, E. (2020). Bullying and cyberbullying in LGBT adolescents: Prevalence and effects on mental health. Communicate, 28(62), 79-90.

Ministry of Equality. 2020. We are Diversity. Activities for the training of professionals in formal and non-formal education in sexual, family, body, and gender identity and expression diversity https://www.igualdad.gob.es/ministerio/dglgtbi/Documents/SomosDiversidad_DIGITAL_0707.pdf

Ramirez Lopez, A. (2022). Bullying, Cyberbullying and LGBT bullying. A bibliographic review.

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