People Say Superhero Films Are Helping Improve Their Mental Health
In the last decade, we've been served at least 45 movies from the Marvel and DC comic books - not to mention the dozens more titles on lesser known superheroes.
These films smash Box Office records, cause a seemingly endless supply of fan theories and put us on an emotional rollercoaster with fierce battles, gut wrenching betrayals, love stories, break-ups, deaths, births and everything in between.
One of the most recent films to grab the attention of the whole world is Avengers: Infinity War.
If you type in the movie title with 'mental health' into social media, the results are overwhelmingly negative, with fans saying that it left them feeling broken and upset.
That's not very surprising considering that at the end Thanos gets his Infinity Gauntlet and succeeds in wiping out literally half the population of the entire universe - including some of our Avengers. So yeah, naturally people were pretty shook from that ending.
But on the whole, movies like these actually do a lot for people with mental health issues.
Not only does the fantastical superhero universe provide a momentary escape for people with depression, anxiety and other conditions, but it also inspires them to tackle these issues in different ways, shapes and forms.
The Mighty writer Amy Hensch penned an article, saying: "Watching Avengers: Infinity War made me realise that superheroes, and the villains they battle, face impossible decisions and situations too, and the consequences of their decisions are far greater than mine.
"If I look at my life as if I am an Avenger, then I can see I do have skills, I do have something to offer the world, and I am surrounded by great people.
"Those of us living with mental illness face big challenges every day, but we can seek out our inner Avenger and tackle whatever comes our way, knowing that fairness has nothing to do with it."
Huffington Post's Alicia Raimundo touched on the similarities between people with mental health issues and superheroes with civilian identities.
She wrote: "Much like the story of Spider-Man, I found myself battling my own personal villains. And I had a lot of personal villains: self-hate, anxiety, body issues, an eating disorder, depression, suicidal ideation."
But Alicia now tries to envision herself as Iron Man as she was inspired by what he did at the end of his first film in 2008.
"Tony Stark is asked to deny that he is Iron Man and even has an ably written up for him to present at a press conference," she wrote. "He approaches the podium to a wave of reporter questions, sits down and says, 'Yes , I am Iron Man' and walks off.
"This simple movie scene has inspired me to be confident with my journey and whatever new mental health struggles come my way."
This obviously isn't restricted to just The Avengers or the MCU, and in the psychology world it's being called Superhero Therapy.
Dr. Janina Scarlet told Psychology Today that when people are struggling with their condition, it's hard for them to see it from a third-person perspective. Some battlers also feel like they're on their own and no one understands their situation.
But when they see their situations playing out on the big screen, it can help them identify what's wrong and make changes for the better.
Dr Scarlet said: "Research suggests that when we identify that we have gone through a painful experience just as others have, this can allow us to feel more connected and that connection with others might even inspire physiological changes in the body, such as the release of a hormone, oxytocin, which has been shown to be related to increased feelings of love and compassion, reduced stress, reduced depression and anxiety, and increased lifespan."
In a therapy setting, professionals may ask clients which superhero they align themselves with most and then the psychologist tries to find examples of that idol overcoming their struggles.
Hell, the likes of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman were created in post-Great Depression America and certainly helped boost morale.
Erin Clancy, a curator who put on an exhibition about these superheroes at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles told CNN: "In the 1930s, the American Dream had become a nightmare, and I think comic books and superheroes in particular provided an escapist form of entertainment that allowed the American public to go into a fantasy world where all the ills of the world were righted by these larger-than-life heroes."
So the next time someone tells you that superhero films are stupid because they can't possibly be real, just flick them this information and tell them to politely be quiet.
'U OK M8?' is an initiative from LADbible in partnership with a range of mental health charities which features a series of films and stories to raise awareness of mental health.
Explore more here and don't suffer in silence. Reach out. It's the brave thing to do.
MIND: 0300 123 3393.
Samaritans: 116 123.
CALM: Outside London 0808 802 5858, inside London 0800 58 58 58.
Featured Image Credit: Marvel