Movies that depict mental illness accurately educate and help fight stigma. When I watch a movie about someone who experiences the same mental illness symptoms I do, I feel less alone. On top of that, many movies (and books) have helped me understand what I am feeling.
Have you seen any of these films? I tried not to include too many well-known movies about mental illness that most of us have probably seen, such as Girl, Interrupted (which is a great movie and book). Be sure to let me know of your favorite film below!
Also: I haven’t included a trigger warning on every movie, but remember to practice self-care. For example, I have a psychotic illness. That means watching movies like A Beautiful Mind can be triggering for me. I don’t watch this movie if I don’t think I can handle it. Please keep this in mind.
1. Sea of Trees
Sea of Trees is about a grieving man (played by Matthew McConaughey) who goes to the famous suicide forest to end his life. Instead, he finds the will to live. This movie is definitely sad, but it’s well-done and ends on a positive note.
Topics: Depression, Suicide
2. What About Bob?
What About Bob? is about a man (played by Bill Murray) with obsessive-compulsive disorder who drives his psychotherapist off the edge. I first watched this movie when I was a child. My family and I loved it. Bill Murray is great at portraying OCD in a likable character.
Topics: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
3. A Beautiful Mind
As someone with schizoaffective disorder, this film was both hard to watch and refreshing. I read the book when I was 16. Even though I hate math, I remember being surprised by how much I related to the main character, the mathematician John Nash. Little did I know, I would be diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder four years later. While this film has the obligatory plot twist (which gets old), it shows a likable and intelligent schizophrenic narrator.
4. The Road Within
The Road Within is about three young adults who escape from a mental facility to go on a road trip together. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, especially because it managed to be funny. The characters are likable and the story is moving.
Topics: Tourette’s Syndrome, Anorexia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
5. To The Bone
To The Bone is about a young woman’s journey to recovery with anorexia. This movie is great because it shows multiple individuals dealing with eating disorders, including a boy. It could be triggering to anyone with an eating disorder, so this particular film might just be good for educating individuals who do not have the illness. It is a Netflix original.
Topics: Eating Disorders, Depression
6. Prozac Nation
This film is about a young woman dealing with depression and self-harm while in college. This film is based on the book, which I really enjoyed. It did make me depressed, but I felt this was necessary to portray how to the author felt. Just keep that in mind and remember to practice self-care.
Topics: Depression, Self-harm, Drug abuse
7. American Beauty
American Beauty is a stunning film about a man (played by Kevin Spacey) having a mid-life crisis. The film shows several characters depicting a mental illness. It also touches on the stigma of being in the LGBT community, which is always a plus. This is one of my favorite movies with a great soundtrack. Trigger warning for gun violence.
8. Welcome to Me
This movie stars Kristen Wiig who is one of my all-time favorite actresses. Wiig plays a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder who loses her psychiatric medication at the beginning of the movie and then buys her own talk show. This movie is hilarious and refreshing.
Topics: Borderline Personality Disorder
9. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
This movie stars Leonardo Dicaprio and Johnny Depp. DiCaprio plays a boy with autism. This movie is great because it shows how neurodivergent children are treated differently and how the condition affects the entire family.
Topics: Autism, Obesity
10. Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine is about a family helping their daughter get into the finals of a beauty pageant. The family is dysfunctional, including an uncle who experiences depression and anxiety. This movie is great because it’s also hilarious, but trigger warning for self-harm.
Topics: Depression, Self-harm, Body Image
About The Author:
August Blair is the founder of Survival is a Talent. She is a freelance writer, blogger, and social media strategist. She is passionate about health and wellness, social issues, and the environment. She studies Communication at The University of North Georgia.