7 Must-Watch Mental Health Movies

“There is hope, even when your brain tells you there isn’t.”

John Green

People often seem happy and healthy from their outer appearance, but more often than not, they are fighting a battle within. This war raging inside a person’s mind is nothing but mental illness.

The World Health Organization (WHO) claims that one in every four people across the world deals with mental or neurological problems during their lifetime. Their suffering increases when confronted with the prejudices and stigmatization of mental health by society.[1]

Though in the past few years, mental health awareness has spread on a large scale, and people have even become empathetic towards its sufferers, we still have a long battle to fight.

7 Must-Watch Mental Health Movies

If you are someone dealing with a mental health disorder and are in that phase of your illness where you find no meaning in the world, then you have landed the right blog.

We have curated a list of 7 mental health movies that will give you a sense of belongingness to the world.

7 Must-Watch Mental Health Movies

1. Good Will Hunting

Must-Watch Mental Health Movies: Good Will Hunting

“You’ll have bad times, but it’ll always wake you up to the good stuff you weren’t paying attention to.”

Genre: American psychological drama

Deals with: Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)

IMDb: 8.3

Directed by Gus Van Sant,’ Good Will Hunting’ deals with the life of Matt Damon as Will Hunting, a janitor at MIT. He is an unrecognized genius who, unlike other college students, spends his spare time solving incredible puzzles.

Nevertheless, his brilliance does not spare the fact that he comes from an abusive childhood, whose memories torment his brain, leading to depression. On observing this, a professor agrees on teaching Will if he would commit himself to visit a therapist.

The movie then proceeds with the evolving relationship of Will and his therapist Robin Williams as Dr. Sean Maguire who helps him view his life through a different lens. 

2. A Beautiful Mind

Must-Watch Mental Health Movies: A Beautiful Mind

“Nothing’s ever for sure, it’s the only sure thing I know.”

Genre: American biographical drama movie

Deals with: Schizophrenia

IMDb: 8.2

Inspired by Sylvia Nasar’s bestselling book, A Beautiful Mind, this movie is rooted in the life of an American mathematician, John Nash, a Nobel prize winner in economics.

Directed by Ron Howard, the movie,’ A Beautiful Mind’ displays how Schizophrenia became a hurdle in Nash’s path to fame. It records the delusions and paranoia that Russell Crowe as John Nash encountered, and how they served as obstacles in his career and life.

As stated by the chairman of psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, Dr. Ken Davis,” Crowe does a brilliant job of portraying the mannerisms, and some of the behaviors of a schizophrenic — the best I have ever seen on the screen.”[2]

3. Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Must-Watch Mental Health Movies: Perks of Being A Wallflower

“This one moment when you know you’re not a sad story. You are alive.”

Genre: American coming-of-age drama

Deals with: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

IMDb: 7.9

An on-screen adaptation of Stephen Chbosky’s book, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, this movie captures the struggles of Logan Lerman as Charlie Kelmeckis, a high school freshman battling with PTSD.

After the suicide of a close friend, Charlie is haunted by the repressed traumas of his childhood. He begins seeing flashbacks of how his Aunt, Helen molested him, which further contributed to suicidal thoughts.

Ultimately, Charlie’s path to heal and cover rested in his ability to confront his trauma that helped him develop an intimate relationship with his friends, family, and life.

4. As Good As It Gets

Must-Watch Mental Health Movies: As Good As It Gets

“I’m drowning here, and you’re describing the water!”

Genre: American romantic comedy-drama

Deals with: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

IMDb: 7.7

Directed by James L. Brooks,’ As Good As It Gets’ presents Jack Nicholson as Melvin Udall, an anti-social novelist with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

This movie captures the isolated life of an OCD patient, Melvin, who generally dislikes people except for the waitress at the restaurant he eats every day. By taking care of his neighbor’s dog after they get into an accident, and developing a friendship with this waitress, Melvin begins his journey to recovery.

This movie alerts the audience to how huge a challenge socializing can be for someone with OCD, a thing we often take for granted!

5. Silver Lining Playbook

Must-Watch Mental Health Movies: Silver Lining Playbook

“There will always be a part of me that is dirty and sloppy, but I like that, just like all the other parts of myself.”

Genre: American romantic comedy-drama

Deal with: Bipolar disorder

IMDb: 7.7

Written and directed by David O. Russell, ‘Silver Lining Playbook’ features Jennifer Lawrence, playing Tiffany and Bradley Cooper as Pat Solitano. They are the leading protagonists of the movie, suffering from an unnamed mental illness and bipolar disorder respectively.

This movie attempts to redefine the meaning of mental illness. It targets the shattering of social stigma associated with the word, “crazy.” Capturing the range of emotions that a person with bipolar disorder goes through, this movie generates consciousness and empathy in the audience.

The validity of this movie on mental health was also backed by Steven Schlozman, a Harvard Medical School psychiatrist who told Vulture in an interview that,” they did a very nice job of depicting manic depressive illness or bipolar disorder in somebody who’s quite bright, and who has limited but present insight on it.”[3]

6. The Aviator

Must-Watch Mental Health Movies: The Aviator

“Sometimes I truly fear that I… am losing my mind. And if I did it… it would be like flying blind.”

Genre: American epic biographical drama

Deals with: Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

IMDb: 7.5

Based on Charles Higham’s nonfiction book, Howard Hughes: The Secret Life, the movie depicts the life of Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, a filmmaker, and a successful pilot, battling OCD.

Directed by Martin Scorsese, ‘The Aviator’ captures how Hughes’ progressing career becomes unstable due to the onset of OCD complications. His symptoms worsen with time, ranging from carrying his bar of soap, not drinking milk from an opened bottle to refusing to socialize, and washing his hands till they bleed.

7. All The Bright Places

Must-Watch Mental Health Movies: All The Bright Places

“The problem with people is they forget that most of the time it’s the small things that count.” 

Genre: American teen romantic drama

Deals with: Undiagnosed Bipolar Disorder

IMDb: 6.5

Based on Jennifer Niven’s bestselling book, All The Bright Places, this movie focuses on the relationship between two troubled high school seniors, Elle Fanning as Violet Markey and Justice Smith as Theodore Finch. Violet struggles to cope up with the death of her sister, while Finch undergoes a mental disorder.

Though the movie does not specify Finch’s disorder, National Alliance on Mental Illness wrote about the novel,” Readers can see that what Finch is going through is bipolar disorder even though ‘depression’ and ‘mania’ are never mentioned, and he does not receive his diagnosis until well into the book.”[4]

Filled with humorous, relatable, happy, and tragic moments, this movie offers great insight to the audience. Though, without a happy ending, it is a realistic story that keenly highlights the importance of mental health.

Liked this piece? Also read: The Effects of Music on Mental Health: Science, Facts, and Research.

Leave a Reply