8 Exceptional Movies On Mental Health Issues | Watch these Heartening Movies Now!

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Trigger Warning: The movies on mental health issues given below have mentioned self-harm, abuse, and suicide.

The past few years have witnessed a surge in movies on mental health issues. The portrayal of people struggling with Mental health issues is on the rise, and rightly so. 

People in today’s world are expected to have perfectly shiny lives. We often try to recreate our lives like those of our celebrity ideals. Everything seems to be perfect in their world. That’s why breaking down these idealistic notions becomes necessary. 

The job becomes easier when the cinema itself starts normalizing having mental health issues and seeking help for them. For those of us suffering from mental health issues on the personal front, seeing something like our struggle being honestly portrayed in the cinema can be of paramount importance. 

Films like the ones mentioned below are proof of how far we have come regarding mental health care facilities and how far we still have to go. 

Here Are 8 Movies On Mental Health Issues | Watch These Heart Warming Movies Now! 

Movies on Mental Health Issues with accurate or even realistic portrayals are hard to come by. It can be quite hard to capture the complexities of the life of an individual with some mental health issue. However, below are some movies that do try to covey something as complex as mental health.  

Watch these movies to sensitize yourself to mental health issues. 

1# All The Bright Places | Bipolar Disorder

8 Exceptional Movies On Mental Health Issues | Watch these Heartening Movies Now!

All the Bright Places(2020) is a movie based on a popular young adult novel written by Jennifer Niven. The movie looks at mental illness, love, and grief from a Young Adult lens. It narrates the disturbingly beautiful love story of a girl who learns to live for a boy who plans to die. Amid all the darkness, they become each other’s bright place. 

“You are all the colors in one, at full brightness”

Set in Indiana, the movie revolves around Theodore Finch, the class freak, and Violet Markey, a popular girl.

Violet deals with survivor’s guilt after losing her sister in a car accident that both of them were involved in. Whereas Finch has a series of ‘Awake’ and ‘Asleep’ cycles that are used to describe the alternating phases of depression and mania. He suffers from bipolar disorder, which is later revealed in the movie.

The movie captures their cathartic journey as they team up to explore the wonders of Indiana for a school project, Wander, Indiana.

  • Release Date: February 28, 2020
  • Running Time: 108 minutes
  • Cast: Elle Fanning, Justice Smith
  • Streaming Service: Netflix

2# The Perks Of Being A Wallflower | Depression, PTSD

8 Exceptional Movies On Mental Health Issues | Watch these Heartening Movies Now!

The Perks of Being A Wallflower is based on a 1999 young adult novel by Stephen Chbosky. The movie revolves around a teenager named Charlie who suffers from PTSD (later revealed in the movie) and depression. 

He was abused by his beloved aunt Helen as a child. Later, he lost his best friend to suicide. 

So, in his freshman year, just out of a mental health institution, he struggles to find friends. He addresses his diary entries to an unnamed friend. This goes on throughout his freshman year. 

His life does get a bit easier when Sam and Patrick take him under their wing. He develops a crush on Sam, who happens to be seeing another guy. 

“We accept the love we think we deserve.” 

His mental health gets worse around the time Sam is leaving for University. He ends up blaming himself for his aunt’s death and thinks that he should end his life too. In the movie, we see Charlie’s mental health taking turns towards the worse before finally getting better.

  • Release Date: September 8, 2012
  • Running Time: 1h 42 min
  • Cast: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller
  • Streaming Service: Hulu, Netflix

3# Speak | PTSD 

8 Exceptional Movies On Mental Health Issues | Watch these Heartening Movies Now!

Speak(2004) is based on a 1999 young adult novel by Laurie Halse Anderson that goes by the same name. It narrates the story of Melinda Sordino, played by Kristina Stewart. 

Melinda calls cops to a house party the summer before her freshman year after she is s*xually assaulted. The assaulter happens to be a popular high school senior. She quits speaking after that incident. 

“You have to know what you stand for, not just what you stand against.”

She has nightmares and flashbacks. She is isolated by her friends for ratting them out. She is called a “squealer” by her peers. Her grades keep dropping low. Her working parents are too busy to notice that something is amiss with their daughter.

But she finds some solace in her art class headed by Mr. Freeman, an uncommon teacher. The movie depicts how it is to live with PTSD, undiagnosed and untreated. It talks about s*xual assault, the consequences for the victim, losing one’s voice, and the tremendous courage to find it again.

  • Release Date: January 20, 2004
  • Running Time: 92 minutes
  • Cast: Kristen Stewart, Michael Angarano, Eric Lively
  • Streaming Service: Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+

Also, Read | 7 Heart-Touching Movies Like Redeeming Love

4# It’s Kind Of A Funny Story | Depression

8 Exceptional Movies On Mental Health Issues | Watch these Heartening Movies Now!

It’s Kind Of A Funny Story(2010) is a movie based on a 2006 novel by American author Ned Vizzini. Interestingly, Vizzini wrote the book based on his own experiences in a psych ward. 

It is about 16-year-old Craig Gilner, who, while contemplating suicide, seeks help at a hospital and gets himself admitted. Craig deals with severe stress on all fronts of his life. His father constantly tries to pressure him into opting for a course he doesn’t like. 

He feels inferior to his best friend Aaron for having an almost perfect life. He is jealous of Aaron for dating Nia, someone Craig has a crush on. All these factors (and some more) lead him to develop clinical depression and consider suicide. 

“So why am I depressed? That’s the million-dollar question, baby, the Tootsie Roll question; not even the owl knows the answer to that one. I don’t know either. All I know is the chronology.”

The movie offers an unusual look at clinical depression while doing some myth-busting. It tells you that you can have a seemingly perfect and ‘normal’ life and still have depression. It also shows how quality mental health care facilities can aid an individual’s healing process. It encourages individuals to seek help by sharing Craig’s positive experience.

  • Release Date: October 8, 2010
  • Running Time: 101 minutes
  • Cast: Keir Gilchrist, Viola Davis, Emma Roberts
  • Streaming Service: Netflix, Prime Video

5# To The Bone | Anorexia Nervosa

8 Exceptional Movies On Mental Health Issues | Watch these Heartening Movies Now!

To the Bone(2017) aims to portray what it is like to live with an eating disorder. It covers the story of Ellen, a 20-year-old woman struggling with Anorexia. She is a college dropout; the disorder takes full control of her entire life. 

She has nothing to look forward to in the future except an increasing prospect of untimely death. She has been through several in-patient programs without making any progress. Instead, she had to be moved out of some for her defiant attitude.

However, her determined stepmother doesn’t give up and books an appointment with an unconventional specialist, Dr. William Beckham. This doctor challenges her to fight her condition and welcome life. His treatment methods suit Ellen. 

“Yeah, that’s bullsh*t. That voice that says you can’t.”

To the Bone approaches eating Disorders with a lighter and fresher approach. The film acknowledges that there are many reasons (or various kinds of pressure) that can lead to someone developing an eating disorder. It resonates with the message that there’s no ‘right’ way to portray an eating disorder. 

However, the ending, though hopeful, remains confusing and a bit unclear.

  • Release Date: 22 January 2017
  • Running Time: 1h 47 min
  • Cast: Lily Collins, Keanu Reeves, Alex Sharp
  • Streaming Service: Netflix

6# Silver Linings Playbook | Bipolar Disorder

8 Exceptional Movies On Mental Health Issues | Watch these Heartening Movies Now!

Silver Linings Playbook(2012) is an undaunted examination of a mental illness. The film is based on Matthew Quick’s infamous novel the Silver Linings Playbook.

It narrates the story of Patrizio Jr., a man with bipolar disorder, just out of a psychiatric hospital. As part of an agreement, he has to move in with his parents. He is determined to find and reconcile with his estranged wife. Pat attempts to see the good, or silver linings, in all that he experiences, hence the name of the movie.

“If clouds are blocking the sun, there will always be a silver lining that reminds me to keep on trying.”

On his journey, he meets a free-spirited widow with her struggles and forms an instant connection with her. He refuses to reciprocate her advances; he’s fixed on finding his wife. 

She offers to help him reconcile with his wife on the condition that he enters a dance competition with her. The two get closer during training and help each other cope with their conditions and move on in life. 

  • Release Date: 7 December 2012
  • Running Time: 2h 2m
  • Cast: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence
  • Streaming Service: Netflix, Amazon Prime

Also, Read | 8 Movies Like The Help | Deeply Heart-Touching Dramas!

7# Black Swan | Anxiety Disorder With Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior 

8 Exceptional Movies On Mental Health Issues | Watch these Heartening Movies Now!

Nina Sayers, the protagonist of Black Swan (2011), suffers from several issues because of the insurmountable pressure she faces as a professional Ballerina dancer. She creates a facade to fake normalcy and continues to struggle beneath it.

The increasing pressure from both her personal and professional life. This leads her to compulsively act on self-harm tendencies. Throughout the movie, Nina “discovers” scratching and bleeding on her body as a result of self-harm. In a particular incident, she stabs herself in the stomach as part of the performance.

By following Nina’s journey, we begin to understand how harmful striving for perfection can get.

“Perfection is not just about control. It’s also about letting go.”

However, at certain points, the film uses artistic freedom to the extent that makes Nina’s struggle almost unreal. 

  • Release Date: 25 February 2011
  • Running Time: 1h 48 min
  • Cast: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
  • Streaming Service: Hulu, Prime Video, Apple TV

8# The Aviator | Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

8 Exceptional Movies On Mental Health Issues | Watch these Heartening Movies Now!

The Aviator (2004) is a psychological biopic-drama film based on the 1993 non-fiction book: Howard Hughes: The Secret Life by Charles Higham.

The film follows the life of perfectionist Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) as he becomes a successful film producer and an aviation magnate. He lives a life full of frivolous spending and flings. He marries a Hollywood actress, who later leaves him for another man because of his workaholicism. 

“Nope! I’ve got a tiger by the tail here, and I’m not about to let go!”

This leads him to become even more unstable as his Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) gets severe. The symptoms become intrusive. It is later revealed in the movie that he has a family history of OCD. He reaches newer heights in his professional life but falls deeper in his personal one. 

The Aviator accurately shows how an illness has the potential to hijack an individual’s life if left untreated. 

  • Release Date: December 25, 2004
  • Running Time: 170 minutes
  • Cast: Leonardo DiCarpio, Cate Blanchett
  • Streaming Service: Amazon Prime, Google Play

Final Words

So many people struggle in silence, thinking that they are the only ones feeling this way. They hesitate about reaching out and seeking the help that they need. Movies on mental health issues that correctly depict mental illnesses, like the ones mentioned above, help people realize that they are not alone. 

We hope movies on mental illnesses reach a wider audience and make them realize that they matter and help will always be provided. 

Cherry Sharma
Cherry Sharma
Cherry is a Vocational English student, passionate about psychology, and an advocate of mental health. She has a deep love for literature and storytelling. Writing is the only thing that makes her see a sense of the thousands of thoughts she has. On Viebly, she combines her love for the three to write interesting articles. In her free time, you can catch her making and playing stories in her head, trying some fancy DIY, tending to her plants, or reading a good book. She mostly prefers thrillers but is still a Potterhead at heart.

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