How 'NCIS' Handled PTSD Perfectly in 'Handle with Care'
How 'NCIS' Handled PTSD Perfectly in 'Handle with Care'
Alexandria Gunn
Alexandria Gunn
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
PTSD is always a tricky subject. Plenty of shows cover it, but not all get it right. Nor do all show the full effects that PTSD can have on a person's life and the people around them. This isn't the first time NCIS has covered a PTSD storyline, but one of the first times it's directly affected a member of the team. "Handle with Care" focused on Jack's past, while bringing in a one-off character in the form of guest star Drew Carey. Here's how NCIS handled PTSD perfectly.

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It Affects Everyone Differently

There's no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to PTSD. Everyone gets it for different traumatic reasons. While it's usually linked to spending time as a prisoner of war or going through a harrowing experience at the hands of an attacker, there are multiple reasons people will struggle to get past the event in their life.

Likewise, PTSD affects them in different ways. While Jack struggles with the events that may have happened because of her decisions, Carey's John Ross admitted that it was the lost time that was a problem for him. The things that happened as a prisoner of war were events that he'd dealt with and accepted. He couldn't get over the lost time and lost loved ones.

Most of us, like Jack, expected Ross to have PTSD from the event. It took NCIS to remind us that while the event leads to PTSD, it's not the direct cause.

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It's Important to Seek Help Regardless of How Much Time Has Passed

Jack made a point that when Ross returned from his time as a prisoner of war, there wasn't the help available there is today. However, that didn't mean Ross should be forgotten about or that he was beyond saving. In fact, Jack focused on a way to help him deal with the lost time. She also finally opened up to Vance, seeking extra help that she needed.

NCIS didn't just touch on PTSD for the sake of a storyline. It opened the discussion about what needs to happen afterward. There was a positive light around the discussion, making it clear that it's never too late to open up and talk about the situation. The writing encourages people who suffer from PTSD to get help. There's no shame in admitting that it happened.

We tend to view mental health problems as a weakness. Sometimes it's difficult to find that fine line between being respectful but honest. It can seem like shows are becoming too political, making it hard to get a message out. "Handle with Care" did exactly as it said on the tin. It handled the whole topic with the care and respect that it deserves. Those who tried to make light of the situation or looked for conspiracy theories were knocked down a few pegs by the end of the episode.

How did you find the handling of PTSD in the NCIS episode? What did the writers do right? Was there anything they could have done differently? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

NCIS Season 15 continues on Tuesdays at 8/7c on CBS. Want more news? Like our NCIS Facebook page.

(Image courtesy of CBS)