The Mind-Movie Connection
Movies and most forms of media are primarily a means of entertainment, but every now and then, some movies perfectly capture human emotions, struggles, and states of mind. Over the last few decades, there has been an increase in the number of movies that portray mental health and psychological issues. While some depictions have been less than ideal, others perfectly capture the essence of mental health problems, emotional struggles, and psychological ailments without stigmatizing them further.
These movies have been eye-openers for laymen when it comes to mental health, and have led to open conversations about mental well-being, psychological disorders, and the importance of therapy and emotional support.
Best Movies About Mental Health
a) A Beautiful Mind
A Beautiful Mind is based on the biography of John Nash, the Nobel prize-winning mathematician. While many people only know him for his game theory, John Nash struggled with schizophrenia for a significant part of his life. Schizophrenia is a debilitating psychological disorder characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and severe impairments of cognition and language. Though dramatized for effect, the movie skillfully portrayed the turmoil experienced by people diagnosed with schizophrenia, as well as their loved ones.
b) Perks Of Being A Wallflower
Perks Of Being A Wallflower is a wonderful coming-of-age movie. But more than that, it is a movie that shows the subtle ways in which our experiences and the traumas we experience continue to affect our lives if left unchecked. It is a movie about wanting to fit in, childhood traumas, suppressed identities, and many other issues that teenagers are left struggling with.
c) Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook does a great job of bringing the reality of mental illnesses to light and debunks the popular notion that there is only one fixed experience of mental illness. It redefines the prevalent and stigmatized image of people with psychological disorders - sad and tired all the time, crazy, and incapable of thinking rationally. Through its protagonists, it shows how even the most seemingly well-adjusted individuals may be dealing with undiagnosed mental illnesses.
d) Inside Out
Inside Out is one of the most popular movies about mental health. It is an animated movie that simplifies mental health and emotional problems in a way that is relatable and can be understood even by children. The movie portrays emotions as different parts of a person’s personality that control their reactions. Through its human-like depiction of emotions, the movie beautifully portrays how emotional disturbances are nothing to be scared of or stigmatized; they are simply the result of one emotion taking over others. All one needs is the support and understanding of those around them.
e) Black Swan
Black Swan is a haunting portrayal of the costs of perfectionism. It revolves around a ballerina whose mental health plummets drastically in her quest for success. Self-harm, eating disorders, and sheer mental agony as a result of the immense pressure she faces - this movie explores it all.
f) Dear Zindagi
Dear Zindagi is one movie that has played a pivotal role in normalising mental health and therapy in India. It centres around a young woman going through many difficulties but is unable to figure out the cause behind them or how to solve them - trouble sleeping, fear of commitment and relationships, and strong feelings of resentment against her parents. With the help of her therapist, she develops a new perspective on life and learns to fall in love with herself and with her life again.
g) To The Bone
To The Bone is a raw and honest depiction of what it’s like to live with eating disorders, and the pain and struggle those people and their families go through. Most importantly, it brings attention to the fact that eating disorders are less about wanting to be thin and more about wanting to have a sense of control amidst the chaos and uncontrollable situations that the individual is experiencing in their family and personal life.
h) Good Will Hunting
Good Will Hunting is a movie about a gifted young man from a troubled family, who is able to overcome his obstacles with the support of his brilliant therapist. The movie beautifully portrays the therapeutic relationship between them, and how therapy is a collaborative experience where the client has the centre stage.
Though by no means a perfect portrayal of any specific mental health issue, Tamasha does a brilliant job of portraying many emotional and psychological turmoils that are rarely discussed - identity crisis, the struggle of choosing between passion and stability, parental expectations, societal pressures, and the mental costs of pretending to be something we are not. Finally, it shows how even the support of one person is enough to bring about a change.
j) Fight Club
Fight Club appears to be a simple action movie on the surface and going by its title, but in reality, it is so much more. The movie tackles heavy and disturbing topics like trauma, toxic masculinity, and other psychological issues head-on and unflinchingly. For many people, the movie presents a very real struggle with monotony and the desire for something more.
Are you planning to add any of these movies to your watchlist? While movies about mental health can certainly help you feel less alone and more understood, this isn’t enough. If you or a loved one is struggling and is looking for emotional support and effective and affordable therapy services, check out Rocket Health! Connect with experienced and licensed therapists through our website today.