Literature and art are examples of efficient mediums that can be used to portray and pass statements on social issues, and create an impact on society. One of today's social issues revolve around "raising awareness for mental illness in society" to teach people about the various mental illnesses, their symptoms, causes, and ways to deal with them. The underlying purpose for this effort is to change the way people have been perceiving these conditions (and the people suffering with them) with ignorance, suspicion, fear, ridicule, and superstition, and convey to everyone that these illnesses are "normal" and can happen to anyone. The idea of using literature and art to send across eye-opening messages about mental illness can be traced back to Stetson's short story from the 19th century: "The Yellow Wall-Paper" where the author tries to convey that postpartum depression is a common condition in women after childbirth, and it did not require the extreme treatment prescribed during the time for recovery, but just understanding, love and support. The character in this story, Jane. suffers from this illness (even though she is unaware of it) after giving birth to her baby and gets put under "rest cure", where she is forced to live in the nursery by her husband, take medicines and exercise in the hopes to recover; she is forced to refrain from doing any sort of work and even writing.
This narrative shares similarities with the 2017 show made by Netflix called 13 Reasons Why primarily because this show was made as an attempt to raise awareness about teen depression and suicide, and to convey that depression is a common condition but it cannot go ignored, and needs care and support. In the show, Hannah Baker, a high school student experiences a series of situations that involve bullying, slut-shaming, issues with treacherous friends, and even sexual abuse and rape; these experiences lead her towards depression which gets chronic when she is not able to share them with the peers or grownups in her life since their ignorance makes them unavailable. While Jane's husband misunderstands her and ignores her requests to work or live a normal life, Hannah's peers shut her out her claiming she is weird and dramatic; even her good friend, Clay is not able to understand or reach out to her.
This type of isolation leads Hannah to commit suicide, and similarly leads Jane towards a nervous breakdown. In her time, Stetson was successful in showing that the "rest cure" was a wrong method to treat mental conditions. Claims have been made that 13 Reason Why glorifies suicide as an escape route from personal troubles (instead of showing a more positive approach where the main character fights back); yet, the show still succeeds in bringing forth the reality of teen depression in society. I think both authors intended to depict the demise or ultimate downfall of their protagonists to show the extreme consequences one can face when left alone to deal with a mental illness without proper support. It is interesting to note that it has been two centuries since Setson's narrative, and the society is still in the process of "discovering and learning" about mental illnesses.