The Best Movies About Mental Illness
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8 Movies That Got Mental Illness Right

No romanticizations, no unrealistic expectations, and no matter for the lighthearted — just real, raw, mental illness.

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8 Movies That Got Mental Illness Right
Demarest Films

As mental health becomes more recognized in the media and becomes less of a taboo subject, there have been some false allegations of what mental illness is. It is romanticized. It is glamorized. And minimized as people joke and make fun of it.

So, even though mental illness is wrongfully portrayed most of the time, there are a few movies that got it right.

1. "Short Term 12" (2013)

Mental illness depicted: Depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

This film, in a completely biased fashion, is the greatest modern representation of mental illness of this time. Its focus is a woman, Grace (Brie Larson), who works in a short-term living facility for kids in-and-out of foster care. Not only does it expose the hardships she faces as she deals with her past, but it also shows no boundaries with PTSD, depression, and other mental illnesses. It is raw. It is real. And it is heartbreaking.

Trigger Warning: this film is not for the light of heart as it delves into the cruelties of sexual abuse, drug abuse, self-harm, mental illness, suicide, and abandonment.

2. "Inside Out" (2015)

Mental illness depicted: Depression

Disney Pixar really outdid themselves with their interpretation of the human brain and the many aspects of people's brains beginning at birth. At birth, Riley, the main character, is given Joy, Anger, Sadness, Fear, and Disgust — all emotions that everyone is given at birth. This film explores situational depression in the mind of a young girl as her entire world changes around her. This is the perfect film to explain the concept of depression to those who have a hard time understanding it.

3. "Loving Vincent" (2017)

Mental illness depicted: Depression and Social Anxiety

Besides being one of the most visually appealing movies I have ever seen, this film also introduces a bigger audience to the inside world of Vincent Van Gogh. The film takes place after his death and shows the final days of the tortured artist. It gives an insight into the inspirations for his artwork--building him up in ways he could never see himself in life. During his lifetime he was never truly understood and appreciated and this film shows the harsh consequences of that.

*Trigger Warning: this film does go into depth about the death and suicide of Vincent Van Gogh.

4. "A Beautiful Mind" (2001)

Mental illness depicted: Schizophrenia

If you have ever taken a psychology class, then you have probably watched this film...and for good reason. This film is based on the book and the real-life story of John Nash as he lived most of his life with undiagnosed Schizophrenia. Not only does it show the struggles he dealt with as he came to terms with his illness, but it also shows the how his illness affected the ones he loved as they were trying to cope as well. Overall, this film delves into the beautiful mind of John Nash without flaw.

5. "Silver Linings Playbook" (2012)

Mental illness depicted: Bipolar Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder

The wonderful casting aside, this movie depicts a young man and woman as they confront their mental illnesses. Bradley Cooper's character, Pat, was recently hospitalized for an outbreak that was due to his bipolar disorder. His denial towards his divorce and his ex-wife leads him to Jennifer Lawrence's character, Tiffany, who is dealing with an undiagnosed borderline personality disorder. Together, they form a very unique and terribly likable relationship, even amidst their illnesses.

6. "Good Will Hunting" (1997)

Mental illness depicted:Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Mood Disorder

"Good Will Hunting" is always considered one of the greatest films of all time for its casting, its story, its hopeful ending, and for its brutal honesty. Matt Damon portrays a young man named Will — a young genius — who hides behind violence, anger, and sarcasm to mask his very real problems with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. When a professor sees his potential, he begins to send him to an old friend psychologist (Robin Williams) who is determined to not give up on Will. And this changes everything. When Will realizes that there are people willing to fight for him, he becomes a completely different person. This is a movie of hope and faith in people. It is a movie of self-growth and self-love--no matter what your upbringing was like.

7. "To The Bone" (2017)

Mental illness depicted: Eating Disorders

When this movie was announced to come out, I was skeptical. I was afraid of this film turning into a romanticization of eating disorders and I was terrified that it would be glamorizing the idea of destroying yourself. But I was wrong. "To the Bone" is anything but a glamorization of eating disorders; it is horrifying and ugly and real. It is the story of Eli (Ellen) who was sent to a group home with others battling eating disorders and through many tears, many relapses, and many near-death experiences, she makes the decision to help herself.

Trigger Warning: this film deals very closely with eating disorders, mental illness, relapse, and suicide. It is advised that if you are dealing with an eating disorder yourself or are in recent recovery, that you do not watch this film; the women and men presented in this film are very sick and it could be triggering to see them as they are in this film.

8. "Phoebe in Wonderland" (2008)

Mental illness depicted: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Never have I ever see a movie like "Phoebe in Wonderland." Phoebe is young and full of life at the ripe age of 10, yet she is dealing with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder after gaining interest in the school play. While battling her mind, she also creates an alternate reality in "Wonderland" where she is happy and free to do as she pleases.

Movies like the ones shown above do not shy away at the idea of mental illness. They show the very real consequences and lives of those who live with mental illness which is so important. We, as a society, cannot just accept the false implications of what a mental illness is...and the more we understand about other's minds, the better the world could be.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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