Emo's recent revival, which critics are coyly defining as its Fourth Wave, could be entirely coincidental - in every paradigm there are brief moments when everything clicks against all odds and something special happens, whether that's the Italian Renaissance or Brazil's 1970 World Cup team - and it could be a result of a linear progression, in correlation with music generally, of the internet enabling exposure for talented unknown artists; as the flowering of Youtube, Bandcamp and their fellows have offered liberation from the repressive orthodoxies of the past in "getting discovered".

However, there's an observable dialectic shift in pop culture, of which Emo is fronting. It's becoming increasingly common that culture is tackling depression - not as plot device, or as characterisation, or as perfunctory theme - but as the vital substance of a narrative.

While arthouse cinema, classical music, theatre, and literature have produced frank depictions of depression for centuries, they're historically the vagaries of the bourgeoisie or the intelligentsia. TV, mainstream cinema and Pop music are the traditional diversions of the 'common man,' and to introduce an issue as polygonal as depression into these worlds was considered redundant because the average folk wanted an optimistic escape from the working week, not to be intellectually or emotionally challenged; hence the inauguration of a strictly 'Pop' culture.

Some of Hollywood and TV's most popular features are often praised for dealing with depression, such as It's a Wonderful Life and Cheers; but in retrospect, their handling of the issue is cursory. Even as recently as Friends or Silver Linings Playbook, depression is confronted before being defeated by some facetious development, and is reduced to a tangential character quirk. Then, the sympathetic conventionalisation of the complexities of mental health is sharply current.

Some of the best modern films, TV shows and novels are about depression as a composite illness; Stephan Chbosky's Perks of Being a Wallflower and the pioneering Little Miss Sunshine; Netflix's Bojack Horseman and - my favourite show on TV - FX's You're The Worst; and also last Summer's crucial beach read, The Girl On The Train. These are implicit acknowledgements of depression's evolving position in the general public consciousness, from a byword for glumness and lassitude into an indiscriminate, incomprehensible mental illness.

The permeation of Emo music directly tackling depression, emblematic of pop culture largely, is happening at a critical time. The Wellbeing figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that depression is on the rise in the UK, with 19.7% of participants admitting to having experienced depression and anxiety in 2014, up from 18.3% from the year before. Rosi Prescott, chief executive of Central YMCA, noted "those reporting evidence of depression or anxiety have risen - these figures are disappointing, yet not a surprise. Work and education pressures, isolation as a result of the rise of 'always on' social networking, and financial pressures as a consequence of growing financial inequality and rising tuition fees, are all likely to have contributed to these rising figures."

Indeed, the US organisation Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities published a study last year revealing that white men are more likely to face depression associated with stressful life events than any other test group, despite experiencing the fewest stressful life events. The study's author Dr. Shervin Assari believes this is rooted in that most consistent of anachronisms, the pressures of traditional masculinity. It's well documented that men, white men particularly, have difficulty in opening up about emotional issues, and this internalisation is severely damaging, not least because it naturally eschews social support fundamental to mental healthiness.

The ONS reported in 2014 that suicide is the number one cause of death among men under the age of forty, and the suicide rate is rising. As Rosi Prescott observed, modern life is evolving into something proliferated with stressful events, diametrically opposed to universal medical advice on how to conduct our wellbeing. We're living in a toxic paradox, where the people in contemporary society are becoming more tolerant and understanding when engaging with depression, but society's institutional mechanics are designed as such that the erosion of mental health is an inevitable consequence. This is why pop culture - one of society's organic and progressive institutions - embracing depression is so significant.

Firstly, an obvious caveat. Depression and Emo have an indissoluble history; Emo, after all, stands for emotion, and not the effusive kind. Sunny Day Real Estate - the veritable godfathers of Emo - established the discourse of quiet-loud guitars and talking about sadness, and these foundations have been reinforced by second generationers like Jimmy Eat World and Brand New. Brand New, especially, prefigured the current golden period with their own volatile conflict with dejection, 2009's Daisy.

However, Emo's third wave ushered in an invasion of populism spearheaded by My Chemical Romance, who - with all due respect - devolved legitimate debates about illness into squealing, infantile manifestos on being different. MCR helped a lot of alienated people, particularly teenagers, find a voice; and that's great, but they also regressed the discourse around mental health while mutating the disposition of popular Emo as something facile and self-parodic. In its twenty years, Emo's openly discussed melancholy, but it's only recently that a progressive trend has begun to emerge; the candid admission that this melancholy, rather than necessarily symptomatic of being misunderstood, is itself a mental illness.

Although the distinction is nominally marginal, its ramifications - psychosomatically, politically, societally - are immense. That the dialectic of dismissing depression as something other - stress, lethargy, pessimism - is becoming retrograde, facilitates a concurrent response from those suffering. By virtue of accreditation, the victim is vindicated. The moral support of a liberal and accepting society is essential to these guys challenging their depression. It provides them with the agency to artistically confront their issues and express themselves freely, conscious of a supportive framework to fall back on. Support is emancipatory, and kindles the creative process; which I believe is critical to Emo - so often vilified as the residence of the moody rather than the unwell - reinvigorating itself.

Emo has settled into an annual pattern of producing a masterpiece complemented by a handful of greats. 2013 had The Wonder Years' The Greatest Generation, with writer/vocalist "Soupy" Campbell confessing in a pre-release teaser video that the record was inspired by the conquest of his anxiety, abetted by Foxing's Albatross and Iron Chic's The Constant One.

The Hotelier's sophomore Home, Like Noplace Is There attracted a great deal of attention for the intemperate passion of its brooding introspection the following year, with vocalist Christian Holden commenting on Tumblr, "It's partly about my experience with friends and loved ones in the past three years which were very complicated, toxic, and abusive. But laid within is a lot about the deconstruction of self for personal growth and transformation. I hope it helps you live and stuff."

As The Hotelier made their breakthrough in 2014, so did Modern Baseball, Soupy Campbell's Folk-Emo side project Aaron West & The Roaring South, and The Smith Street Band; while Cloud Nothings and Cymbals Eat Guitars released two fantastic non-Emo records confronting depression and identity, a further indication of its gradual normalisation in the zeitgeist, as well as the emerging fluidity between Emo and Indie Rock.

2016 has been strong so far, with Modern Baseball, Joyce Manor and Frightened Rabbit releasing moving chronicles of their respective frontman's struggles in coping with diverse psychological crises; while The Hotelier released Goodness, a sequel of sorts to Home that charters Holden's trajectory into a space of life-positivism - a hopeful antidote to Home's despotic melancholy, and an uplifting symbol that depression can be confidently coped with, if never quite conquered.

It's 2015 where Emo's revival peaked, however. The dejection/uplift dichotomy which separates The Hotelier's two records synchronised on Harmlessness, by The World Is Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, which - following a measured, year-long retrospection - has a legitimate claim as one of the greatest Emo albums. This is perhaps because it registers as a culmination of, and conclusion to, Emo revivalism.

Thematically, it plays like an intervention. In its zealous, all-or-nothing confrontation with mental illness - its roots, its symptoms, its protracted corollaries - Helplessness is the proverbial phoenix, where from the ashes of vacuity and morbidity soars purpose, and joy, and beauty. In the tender opener 'You Can't Live There Forever,' David Bello introduces the record's mission statement, "you think that the world is alright, and that's a lie/cause we're all afraid to die, and that's alright."

It's a spooning record, one which acknowledges feelings of hopelessness, loneliness and nothingness and cuddles the listener in its professions of solidarity; but it's also a call to action, that in solidarity we can defeat the spectres of nihilism. Later, 'Haircuts For Everybody,' is synecdoche of Emo's resolve. Proceeding barbed couplets about impermanence echoing over an aloof guitar line, its second half erupts into a primordial laxative, a maximalist, exhaustively earnest plea to "please change your life," as direct action is the only way to get better.

Musically and anatomically, it's brilliantly cosmopolitan. The detached strings and epically patient song formats of Post-Rock meet Indie Rock keyboards and power choruses, and the angular guitars and forensic instrumental interplay of Math Rock; orchestrated by the unabashed gravity and quiet/loud dynamics of Emo. It's so creatively dextrous it transcends straight definition, as feasibly Post-Emo. Stylistically, and in its handling of depression, Harmlessness is a colossal denouement to the notion of a revival. This is music that's important and great, and is here to stay. To adopt a corresponding pop culture buzzterm, this is no longer Emo Revivalism but Peak Emo.

The World, The Hotelier, Modern Baseball, The Wonder Years; these are the figureheads of a movement where depression in popular music is - if not yet normalised - ingenuously valued.

This isn't a trivial transformation; some of Pop history's icons have taken their own lives due to their depression, including Ian Curtis, Kurt Cobain and Nick Drake; and while some of their music alluded to their illnesses, they were just that, allusions. Without simplifying their idiosyncratic, multifaceted difficulties, these allusions - through a suggestive lyric, or in Curtis's case through a dance imitating his epileptic fits (subsequently misappropriated by oblivious scenesters, to his despair) - translate as cries for help.

Suffocated by societal taboo and mischaracterisation, they had no outlet for cathartically expressing themselves in a safe context, just as millions of people continue to feel stifled and isolated today. That a figure like Kid Cudi, so synonymous with breezy Rap (although this is, again, a mischaracterisation), recently checked himself into rehab because of his depression, and released a public statement clarifying his position, is momentous and beneficent; evidence that even one of the most habitually hyper-masculine spheres of the music industry can foster a comfortable environment.

That the leaders of Evo's revival, feel comfortable opening up through their work is inspiring, and the same goes for the writer-directors, the showrunners, and the bestselling authors today. A more convivial society has creatively invigorated them, producing innovative and compelling work that by turn buttresses our familiarity with and sympathy towards mental illness. It's okay to not be okay, and we're experiencing an artistic and humanistic purple patch as a consequence.