TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Mental TV Poster Image
Soapy but thoughtful drama looks at mysteries of the mind.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series looks at mental illness from a compassionate and illuminating point of view, though Dr. Gallagher sometimes employs illegal tactics to help a patient. One doctor is cheating on her husband. Tthe characters are from various racial/ethnic backgrounds; one is gay.


Some patients get violent when they become delusional and yell, scream, and throw furniture at those trying to subdue them. Others imagine killing themselves or hurting others; bloody images of these dreams are often shown.


Some strong sexual innuendo, plus scenes of doctors kissing and fondling each other's bottoms, as well as delusional patients imagining that they're enjoying a sexual escapade. In one episode, Dr. Gallagher takes off his clothes to help calm a delusional patient (no nudity is shown).


Audible language includes words like “hell," “damn,” and “piss off."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to drug and alcohol addiction throughout the show, but these discussions are usually offered in a medical context. There are also lots of discussions about drug "cocktails" for patients. The hospital staff is sometimes shown drinking at home (beer) or socially (wine, mixed drinks).

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this medical drama explores a wide variety of mental illness. Its approach is nonjudgmental and informative, but some of the subject matter -- and the effects used to highlight patients' delusions -- may upset some viewers. The main character sometimes uses far-fetched and/or illegal tactics to help patients; characters are also involved in soap opera-esque storylines involving romance, friendship, and infidelity. There are discussions related to alcohol and drug abuse, but most actual drinking is done by adults in a limited social context. Expect some salty language of the "hell" and "damn" variety.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 2, 4, 10, and 12-year-old Written byrmichelle85 June 14, 2009
Parent of a 5, 7, and 13-year-old Written byTBF June 11, 2009

i hated this show

i think kids should not watch this and adults shouldnt either my kids are no longer alowed to watch this

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What's the story?

MENTAL follows psychiatrist Jack Gallagher (Chris Vance) in his new position as the director of Psychiatric Services at Los Angeles' Wharton Memorial Hospital. While searching for creative ways to help people dealing with a wide array of syndromes, the dedicated doc often finds himself at odds with his boss, hospital administrator/former flame Nora Skoff (Annabella Sciorra). And then there's the drama brought on by his colleagues -- including resentful Drs. Veronica Hayden-Jones (Jacqueline McKenzie) and Carl Belle (Derek Webster) -- and the younger medical professionals who need mentoring, like nurse Malcolm D. Washington (Edwin Hodge) and residents Arturo Suarez (Nicholas Gonzalez) and Chloe Artis (Marisa Ramirez). As he strives to help his patients, inspire his staff, and deal with annoying administrative responsibilities, the quirky Gallagher also quietly holds on to the hope that he'll somehow find his mentally ill sister.

Is it any good?

Mental demystifies mental illness by showing it through the eyes of both the doctors and the patients. It explores the featured disorders in a way that's informative and revealing rather than tragic or sinister. It also highlights the existing tensions in the medical community, which is still full of conflict about the appropriate way to treat patients who suffer from these kinds of afflictions and help them reclaim their lives.

Although the show is open-minded and compassionate, it relies on some so-so dramatics to keep the stories going. Some of Gallagher's treatment tactics are a little far-fetched, and some of the special effects meant to help viewers "see" patients' delusions are a bit over-the-top. And like most medical dramas, Mental intertwines the patients' stories with the staff's romantic and personal relationships. Still, in the end, Mental offers thoughtful -- if not thought-provoking -- entertainment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how the media depicts the mentally ill. Why are people with mental illnesses often shown on TV shows or in movies as being funny or violent? Do shows like this one contradict these stereotypes or reinforce them? Families can also discuss how societies have looked at mental illness over the centuries. Did you know that in some cultures, people who suffered from illness-related delusions were often seen as god-like creatures, while other cultures burned people with mental illnesses as witches? How does historic context impact the way we think about the mentally ill today?

TV details

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