Does “Stranger Things” Season 4 Highlight Mental Health?

Stranger Things became a huge hit. Thanks to its abundance of 80s nostalgia, likable characters, and a compelling story that combines secret US government experiments and otherworldly monsters. While the fourth season of the series continues on these tangents, it also introduces a previously unexplored theme in the show: psychological well-being in young people. While this was most evident in Max’s story, it can also be seen in Eleven’s. 

Mental health issues are significant for a show dealing with monsters, government experiments, and younger children but can also be watched by children.

Read more- Why Playing Mine Craft Can Improve Your Mental Health.

Max And Mental Health Issues Faced By Her

Max was seen listening to music on her Walkman at the start of the new Stranger Things season while socially withdrawing from her friends. 

She was frequently seen discussing her previous trauma of witnessing Billy’s ugly death while fighting the Mind Flayer with the college counselor. Through this, we learned that Max had trouble sleeping, recurring nightmares, and fixed complications. 

As the season progresses, it becomes clear that Max wasn’t the only one seeing the college counselor. Chrissy and Fred confided in her, complained of experiencing similar symptoms, and were also visiting counselors.

Eleven And Her Mental Health Issue

Eleven was having nightmares related to repressed memories of her seemingly killing the rest of the check subjects at the Hawkins Lab. 

She was having difficulties adjusting to traditional life in her everyday life. Angela and her other classmates were constantly bullying her. Despite her challenges, Eleven refuses to tell anyone about her new life and even lies to Mike. Her nightmares and day-to-day struggles eventually led her back to Dr. Brenner.

Psychological Health Points In Both Max And Eleven

The presence of psychological health issues in both Max and Eleven makes both of them a prey for Vecna, who preys on people’s insecurities and past trauma. Vecna would use this trauma to convince them to go the Upside Down, where they would be murdered. 

But, aside from his supernatural abilities, could Vecna’s personality be a metaphor for real-life psychological well-being issues? The signs of Vecna’s curse were similar to symptoms of despair, which could be caused by various factors, such as previous trauma or guilt.

stranger things season 4 poster

While the fourth season of Stranger Things and mental health delves into Max and Eleven’s past traumas, it also briefly touches on Nancy Wheeler’s unresolved guilt over Barb’s death in Season 1. 

Nancy was always racked with guilt over Barb’s death, believing that her carelessness was to blame for Barb’s death at the Demogorgon’s hands. Despite going through a personality change in Season 2 which led to the public disclosure in the Hawkins lab, Nancy was revealed in Season 4 that she is still haunted by guilt over her best friend’s death, which Vecna uncovers. In only two episodes, Nancy was forced to confront her demons and reopen old wounds.

Is Stranger Things Really Trying To Address Mental Health Issues?

Stranger Things may appear on the surface to be a fun show full of 80s nostalgia and government experiments. What began as an unusual but frightening present addressed the trauma and mental scars that many of the main cast members had acquired due to their various experiences dealing with the Upside Down world. Though the show does not detail each main character’s mental health issues, it still indirectly dives into the mental health issue.

Read more- Finding ones Ikigai- A Path To Good Mental Health.


Instead of sharing painful feelings with family or friends, many of us keep them hidden or use poor coping mechanisms to numb them. Spending time talking and communicating with people you trust is crucial. Social interaction is necessary for good physical and mental health.

Get out of your comfort zone and experience everything – the good, the bad, and everything in between- because life is full of demogorgans dressed as angels. 

Remember to ask for help and share your struggles when things get tough. Take advantage of all the love and support available to you.

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