5 Movies That Represent Mental Illnesses Brilliantly

Cinema is a powerful means of communication. A well-made movie on a stigmatized topic can instill seeds of change and start conversations that will hopefully bring about a positive outcome. Mental illness is one such stigmatized subject that is in desperate need of being spoken about more often without any shame attached to it. We don’t claim to be therapists but here’s one free bit of advice. It’s okay not to be okay, don’t beat yourself up about it. But, it’s not okay to continue to stay not okay. Now we’ll let these brilliant Bollywood and Hollywood films that represent issues of mental health correctly do the talking.

A Beautiful Mind

Stream on Amazon Prime

Directed by Ron Howard, A Beautiful Mind is a biopic based on the genius mathematician and Nobel prize winner, John Nash. The film depicts Nash’s gradual onset of paranoid schizophrenia and how he deals with it. This film is not only powerful and inspiring but also depicts Nash as a good human being, unlike many characters that are portrayed to have schizophrenia. The story draws you in and makes you feel empathetic as you look at the world through John’s eyes.

Dear Zindagi

Stream on Netflix

This Bollywood film directed by Gauri Shinde revolves around a cinematographer named Kaira (Alia Bhatt) who is blunt and cynical. She goes through a rough patch in her life and ends up moving back with her parents whom she has issues with. Due to many sleepless nights, anxiety, and unhappy days, she decides to meet Dr. Jehangir (Shah Rukh Khan), a free-spirited therapist who helps her get a new perspective on life. This film is important because it normalizes therapy as a great option to deal with the emotional ups and downs that life throws at us.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Stream on Netflix

This film revolves around a socially awkward Charlie (Logan Lerman) who starts high school being an isolated and anxious kid. However, things get better for him when he becomes friends with Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller). His friends help bring some sort of calm to his inner turmoil until he has to go to college. Through the film, we see Charlie’s mental health journey that even takes us back to his time in a psychiatric hospital and his childhood trauma. This movie is raw and explores mental health beautifully through this coming-of-age film.

Silver Linings Playbook

Stream on Netflix

The plot of this movie revolves around Pat (Bradley Cooper) who is forced to move back with his parents after spending time at a mental health hospital. His untreated symptoms of bipolar disorder caused him to lose his wife and kids and now he is more determined than ever to get his family back. On the course of this journey, he meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence) who agrees to help him in exchange for being her dance partner. There has been some debate on if this film accurately depicts bipolar disorder, however, it beautifully portrays the importance of relying on your loved ones for support.

Girl, Interrupted

Stream on Netflix

This film is based on Susanna Kaysen’s memoir with the same name. The story follows the life of Kaysen, played by Winona Ryder. Kaysen was checked into a mental institution during the 1960s after she had a mental breakdown and overdosed when she was 18 years old. She soon meets other young women who have similar stories and experiences and forms a close bond with Lisa (Angelina Jolie). Although this film is intense with graphic depictions of self-harm, it’s raw and very real.

We understand that this time of being quarantined is tough and can be overwhelming. Make sure you have someone you trust to talk to in case you start feeling anxious, depressed or lonely. Meanwhile, if you would like to take your mind off the quarantine, here are some other great movie recommendations for you. Stay safe, stay strong; we will make it through this.

Alisha Fernandes: