How Disney's movie Frozen Can Help Promote Mental Health Awareness

Disney’s newly beloved movie, Frozen is one of the best Disney movies I have seen. It’s right up there with the classics such as The Little Mermaid and The Beauty and The Beast. You all know the tale, as I’m assuming you’ve watched the movie already since it’s already won Best Song “Let It Go” and with the world knowing Kristen Bell has some serious vocal chords (total girl crush over here!) that can stand next to Idina Menzel (I mean, Adele Dazeem.)

If not,  here’s the story. It is set around two sisters who grow up love playing with each other around their castle. The older sister, Elsa, has a super power of being able to shoot ice to make snowmen, a snowfall, and an ice-skating rink on command. It isn’t a threat until one time the girls were playing together that Elsa accidentally hits her with her powers, knocking her sister, Anna unconscious. Their parents are frightened and are told by magical rock trolls to help Elsa control her powers as one day it can be her own undoing. The parents react by isolating Elsa—separating the girls’ beds, keeping castle staff to a minimum, no visitors, and even gives Elsa gloves to “conceal, do not feel” her growing powers.

Sadly, and typical in a Disney movie, the girls’ parents die in a voyage at sea, and the girls are left to take care of one another. Unfortunately, Elsa is still ignoring any outside help, even from her own sister. She locks herself in bedroom, keeping Anna and everyone out, as she believes she is cursed by her powers and doesn’t want to harm anyone. Coronation day comes three years later, when Elsa has become of age and becomes queen. This involves the castle doors being opened and letting people come in to watch this event. It is nerve-wrecking for Elsa as it is exciting for Anna, as Elsa is worried to be around so many people and does not want to show her secret shame. Since Ela is suppressing her powers, it is no surprise that when Ana tells her that she is marrying a prince she had just met that day and insists on having him and his twelve brothers come live with them in the castle. Mind you, most people would freak out at this news, but for someone like Elsa who has been completely isolated, she gets upset because she just wants the coronation day to be over so that she can go back to living her life behind closed doors. She completely freaks out and her powers come out in front of everyone. Surprised by her sister’s powers (as is everyone) she still goes after Elsa when she runs away in embarrassment. When Kristoff asks Anna what she’s going to do when she sees Elsa, her response is simple, “I’m going to just talk to her.”

That line resonated with me because I believe in the power of counseling and talk therapy. “I’m just going to talk to her,” Anna declares. She just wanted to talk to Elsa despite shutting her out for so many years. She believes her sister is good and can help her reconsider leaving their kingdom. But even after speaking with Elsa, and accidentally getting ice in her heart, Anna still believes in her sister and saves her sister’s life in the end. It was an act of true love that Anna committed and was able to undo the ice from her heart.

So, where does Mental Health Awareness come from, you ask? If you look at Elsa’s power as a mental health condition, say Depression, Anxiety, Bi-Polar, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, etc. you can see that her parents’ wanting her to “conceal, do not feel” her disorder improperly and therefore, feeding her condition/disorder. It also taught Elsa that something was wrong with her, when in reality, she was simply born that way and cannot change herself–only maintain her powers. There wasn’t any active counseling or work that showed to help Elsa deal with her secret power. If only she did seek help for her power(disorder) perhaps she wouldn’t have missed out on all those years with her sister. Perhaps she would have been able to control it and understand how it works. I’m guessing that if Elsa and her parents were upfront with Elsa’s powers, Anna would have a better understanding of her sister and be able to help her effectively when she needed any help. For example, if Anna knew about Elsa’s anxiety and apprehension on coronation day, Anna could have helped Elsa get through the ceremony with more enjoyment than a “let’s just get this over with” mentality.

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