Top 6 Movies That Centre Around The Struggles Of Mental Health

Monday 3 December 2018

Mental Health is a subject that so many of us can relate to personally, which is why today's guest post by Laila Resende -  rounds up the top 6 films that centre around this subject, and the challenges mental health issues can present the characters within their arc. 

So, let's hand over to Laila to see her summary of the top 6 films that can educate us on mental health, and how these issues have been explored.

Living with a mental illness means being misunderstood most of the time.

Not everyone will quite understand the feeling of having to battle against your own mind. 

That’s when movies enter the picture. 

Whether the stories they tell are reality based or not, whether we have been in a similar position or not, it doesn’t matter. Good movies put us right in the character’s shoes. 

They’re a sure-fire way to make us feel embraced despite our mental hurdles, as well as help the non-sufferers to comprehend them. 

Whatever the main message of the film may be, it is transported from a script to directors, actors, then consequently to the screen and the audience. 

That way, if the story is well written and portrayed, everybody gets a chance to experience things from a different perspective and perhaps, change their views on certain topics. 

Those, of course, include mental health issues. 

There are countless movies that grant their point of view on the topic. I’ve selected a few to tackle mental health in distinct ways, some of them directly and others not so much.

Let’s see what they have to offer.

1) Black Swan

The excellence of this film revolves around Nina’s obsession with success, which results in her pushing herself to near perfection in order to become the swan queen in the Swan Lake ballet. 

She also becomes infatuated with her understudy, Lily. The character visibly suffers from eating disorders, repetitive harmful activity – which may point towards OCD – and visual/auditory hallucinations. 

The disorders are in sync with Nina’s arch throughout the picture, utilizing the swan transformation as a metaphor to her behavioral changes. She ultimately learns the competition hurts no one but herself.

2) The Babadook

Nope. It’s not just a movie about a boogeyman-ish creature that scares a family. 

It is in fact an eye-opener when it comes to acceptance. 

Samuel is an impulsive child who displays hyperactive behavior and a fertile imagination, which in turn troubles his relationship with his mother, Amelia still grieving the loss of her husband. 

Though Samuel's demeanor is criticized even by his own family and school authorities, the frightening experience he and Amelia endure with the Babadook will teach her a lot about Samuel’s thought patterns and strengthen their bond. 

You can’t get rid of the Babadook, but you can learn to deal with it.

3) Girl, Interrupted

The feeling I got after watching Girl, Interrupted was of unity. 

Protagonist Susanna slowly but surely realizes she isn’t the only person who’s disturbed by her own actions. The portrayals of disorders including obsessive, borderline and antisocial, among others, really contrast the characters’ intriguing personalities, yet they don’t exclude any. 

Each girl have their own reasons, but their issues connect them, forming an alliance. Despite bursts of conflict between themselves and orderlies, they’re able to maintain a cheerful coexistence inside a psychiatric facility and undergo life-changing experiences, as well as build remarkable friendships along the way.

4) It's Kind of A Funny Story

The will to try again is what kickstarts depressed teenager Craig’s journey to self-discovery. 

After a suicide attempt due to school pressure and doubt, he does what every person struggling with mental health issues should do: he gets help. 

What begins as a shy approach at a mental hospital grows into an unexpected friendship, a potential romance and the answer to his uncertainties. 

All thanks to  being given another shot at life.

5) Silver Linings Playbook

When it comes to relationships, being yourself is rule #1. 

The connection between Pat and Tiffany is possible owing to their complicated backgrounds and mental illnesses – respectively Bipolar Disorder and depression. 

See, what makes the audience fall in love with the couple is exactly the behavior resulting from their conditions. 

Their impulsivity and spontaneity make them funny and relatable, because they too have their share of drawbacks. 

That’s certainly the reason they got along: they’re unusual, in a badass way. 

Which leaves us with:

6) Alice in Wonderland

Though most everyone’s mad in Wonderland, doesn’t that make the story way more magical? Actually, there are theories about possibly alluded disorders in the film, which are associated with each character’s distinct manners. 

For instance, Generalized Anxiety in the White Rabbit and Bipolar Disorder in the Mad Hatter. 

The said “madness” can refer to multiple problems, but still, it’s natural to them. 

If it wasn’t for these qualities they wouldn’t be nearly as inspiring to Alice, who finds herself there with the awareness that the best people aren’t always ordinary.

A film’s job is by no means to hide the truth of life, nor to sugarcoat it. 

In reality, it’s meant to show the dark facets of it, however cruel they may be. 

Though the somber side of mental illness makes a huge appearance in movies, so does recovery, and most importantly, so does growth and fulfilment!

Bio: I am a twenty-year-old student from Brazil, pursuing a degree in English. My passions include reading screenplays, blogging, and binge watching psychological thrillers. I share my thoughts on life and writing at The Thought Inventory  and on my Instagram page


  1. Replies
    1. There are so many incredible movies related to mental disorders! A Beautiful Mind was on my list,as well as Good Will Hunting and other masterpieces. I was aiming for a shorter word count so you'd have a lovely reading experience, therefore I've selected a few. Thank you for the suggestion and hope you enjoyed the post!

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