In 2021, people all over the world are constantly fighting for better and more accurate representation in media and popular culture. From casting the right actors in specific roles to representing certain communities on-screen, representation has never been more critical.
If you’re a movie or television buff, you might have noticed that mental health has been poorly represented over the past few years. Hollywood has done a poor job of positively showing mental illness and mental health, from depicting mentally ill people as crazy and out of control to making a mockery of various mental illnesses.
However, a few movies have shown audiences that films can talk about mental illness and mental health without any negativity.
Top three movies positively depicting mental health:
1. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
Starring Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook is one of the best movies depicting what it’s like to be living with mental illness. Cooper plays Pat Solatano, a man who lives with his parents after spending a few months in a mental institution. At first glance, Pat seems like he’s just down on his luck, but he actually has OCD and bipolar disorder. When he meets Tiffany, played by Lawrence, his life becomes a bit more complicated than he would have liked. She offers to help Pat reconnect with his estranged wife, but only if he helps her with something in return.
We love this movie because of how it represents people struggling and living with mental illness. It’s unexpectedly funny, authentic, and accurately portrays the up-and-down relationship we all have with our families. We also loved how Silver Linings Playbook refrained from depicting individuals with bipolar disorder as one dimensional but instead represented Bradley Cooper’s character as someone with flaws, goals, dreams, and a personality.
2. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
If you’re a Russell Crowe fan, chances are you’ve seen this movie already. If not, here’s a quick recap for you.
A Beautiful Mind follows John Forbes Nash Jr., a Nobel laureate dealing with paranoid schizophrenia. Schizophrenia is a type of psychosis, which means that there are many occasions when your mind doesn’t understand reality. If you’ve ever studied psychology or know someone who is dealing with this illness, you’ll know that the symptoms present themselves in different ways.
In this beautiful film, John is a mathematician whose career is taking off when his paranoid schizophrenia presents itself more and more frequently in his daily life.
We love this movie because it pays tribute to a beautiful person and represents schizophrenic individuals without making them seem as though they should be locked up and kept away from society.
3. Inside Out (2015)
Inside Out is another film that everyone needs to watch, especially children because it introduces them to the realities of mental health at a young age.
This Pixar film is about a young girl named Riley who moves to San Francisco from Minnesota with her parents. Inside her mind live five basic emotions: happiness, sadness, fear, anger, and disgust. Her five personified emotions govern all of her actions and the experiences that she goes through get stored as memories in the form of colored orbs within her mind. The Happy persona, called Joy, is the leader of the five basic emotions.
After Riley moves to San Francisco, she starts to feel sadder and sadder each day as she struggles to adjust to her new life in a new city. Throughout the movie, she tries to ignore the overwhelming feeling of sadness that overtakes her, but the five personified emotions within her go on their own journey to prevent Riley from feeling sad.
At the end of the film, she eventually gives in to the sadness and confronts it, which ultimately helps her feel better.
We loved this movie because it represents the struggle with depression among young children, but in a manner that isn’t obvious or graphic. Depression is real, and children need to know that they’re not alone.
In this article, we took you through a list of the top 3 movies positively depicting mental illness. While mental health is still openly discussed in today’s world, we still have a long way to go in terms of how it is portrayed in popular culture and mainstream media. However, these movies do an excellent job!