Mental health issues are so incredibly important but historically rarely discussed. The topics aren't ever easy to bring up because there has always been such a stigma surrounding them. Mental illness affects 1 in 5 people in America. It's something we need to talk about more, and I'm so excited to finally see these issues becoming more and more prevalent in shows and movies.
Writers and directors are becoming creative with how to present topics and getting people so involved in storylines they might not even realize all of the hidden signs and messages about mental health until the end. It's sparking important conversations and there has been quite a few great movies and shows bringing up these topics recently. I wanted to touch upon one movie and one series that really stood out to me, personally.
Most recently, "The Haunting of Hill House" on Netflix has taken the spotlight. It's classified under horror, and I will say some parts are not for the faint of heart. The meaning behind the whole series is what intrigues me most. There are many different things represented in the series: grief, trauma, anxiety and mental illness. It is masked as a ghost story, a story of a family who is forever impacted by the Hill House. The series will leave you wanting more, and wondering what was ever really real. I won't spoil anything for those of you who haven't watched it, but the ending will really open your eyes to a lot.
"The Haunting of Hill House" brings up super important topics, in a spooky way to keep viewers wanting to know more. Trauma, anxiety, grief and mental illness are not easy subjects to approach, so I love when I see shows or movies taking these subjects on from an unexpected angle. Was their mother actually mentally ill and seeing things or were there really ghosts impacting her that much. Were the ghosts, such as bent neck lady, just physical metaphors for anxieties and past trauma "haunting" them? Either way, the ghosts are everywhere in every episode.
The show quite literally walks you through different stages of grief and different ways people grief. It blatantly brings up mental illness, it shows trauma, it shows therapy. I think the way it is all presented is so brilliant because you might not even realize how deep the show is touching upon until the very end. It causes the spark of these conversations and did so in a beautifully eerie way.
There is also a film I just recently rewatched that is so eerily brilliant at talking about mental illness. "Split" is a horror movie about a man with 23 personalities who abducts three girls. The movie walks you through the three girls discovering his split personalities, and through his relationship with his therapist. There is no hiding the topics being brought up in this movie. His therapist, Dr. Fletcher, says it best "The human brain is the most complex object in the universe."
To me, the movie was so intriguing because it's one physical man but we got to meet and learn about all 23 individuals within him, how they came about and each of their roles. Again, I won't give away the ending to those who haven't seen it, but you learn about a possible 24th personality, The Beast. One of the girls is revealed to have experienced trauma and mental health issues in the past and he, in the end, empathizes with her when discovering this. The end of the film he says "The broken are more evolved". Those who have battled mental illness have a certain special fight in them.
I think it's interesting that both of these that really pulled at my heartstrings in the ending were classified as horror. Mental illness is a very scary thing, though, so I guess that's also the beauty in the creativity behind these. Everything that occurs in these shows and movies, while not all are based on real-life events, are absolutely real for some people.
Multiple personality disorder is very real, anxiety can be debilitating, schizophrenia can make you question reality, and trauma is haunting. I love seeing hard topics being brought to light on such large platforms in media. Let's not only enjoy these shows and movies but have those important conversations with friends and family afterward about the meanings behind the story.