Conversations surrounding mental health have been gradually increasing in recent years, with more platforms, campaigns, and even film and television working to de-stigmatize mental illness in the Arab world.
World Mental Health day comes annually on 10 October to raise awareness about mental health issues and mobilize efforts in support of mental health.
A nation-wide survey in 2018 by MoHP found that 25 percent of Egyptians suffer from mental-health related problems, and Egypt has gradually been increasing its efforts towards understanding and tackling mental health. In March, it launched its first free mental health and addiction treatment digital service.
From depression to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, here are four Egyptian television shows that represent mental health in different narratives, aiming to create an open space in Egypt for honest and informed conversations on mental health.
Khali Ballak Men Zizi – 2021
Khali Ballak Men Zizi (Take Care of Zizi) stood out as a notable exception to the overly exaggerated and highly unrealistic Ramadan TV shows. Khali Bllak Men Zizi, a dramedy helmed by director Karim El Shenaawy and writer Mariam Naoum, sheds light on important issues, including mental health, ADHD, and therapy. Starring Amina Khalil and Mohamed Mamdouh, the show has opened honest conversations on mental health, and has helped clarify certain stigmas surrounding mental illnesses in the Arab world.
Where to Watch: Shahid VIP
Rivo – 2022
Rivo is a mini-series that takes its watchers back to the flare of the 90s with its layered drama and mystery-shrouded episodes. But beyond the blowouts, the stellar cast, and the catchy soundtrack – Rivo discusses important issues often overlooked in Egyptian society.
The series managed to address the depression that comes with grief and hopelesness, as well as suicide. Marwan Sami, played by Sedky Sakhr, is a character in the show that is dealing with treatment at a hospital as he recovers from his third suicide attempt.
Topics such as suicide and depression are often still considered a taboo for many people in Egypt, Rivo has managed to seep into the hidden universal secrets buried inside each person.
Where to Watch: WATCH It
Taht El Saytara – 2015
Since it aired in 2015, Taht El-Saytara (Under Control) has single-handedly rewired and reshaped the perception of drug addiction in Egypt. Written by Mariam Naoum and directed by Tamer Mohsen, the series accurately sheds light on the lifestyle of addiction, depicting the mental and psychological effects it has on people.
Starring Nelly Karim and Dhafer L’Abidine, the series carefully illustrates the different stages of addiction, across different demographics and lifestyles, and uncovers the social stigmas that stem from drug addiction.
Where to Watch: Youtube
Sokout Hor -2016
The duo Marioum Naoum and Nelly Karim strike once again in a one-of-a-kind show in the series Sokout Hor (Free Fall, 2016).
Karim, who always manages to be the voice of the forgotten women, plays a psychologically troubled woman called Malak who is accused of murdering her husband and her sister. Malak is admitted in a psychiatric clinic after her arrest because she suffers from several mental illnesses. Inside the clinic, she deals with more mental strains that cause her several setbacks.
Where to Watch: YouTube