10 Movies Depicting Mental Health Realistically: A Genuine Portrayal of the Human Mind

Dr. Serenity
April 12, 2023

10 Films That Get Mental Health Right: Depicting the Human Mind with Care and Accuracy

Movies have always been an excellent medium for depicting complex human emotions and experiences, including mental health issues. However, too often, Hollywood movies have distorted the reality of mental health, stigmatizing the characters and making them seem different from the rest of the world. Such movies can also leave people who experience these issues feeling isolated and misunderstood.

The truth is that mental health affects everyone, whether it’s you, a family member, a friend, or an acquaintance. In this list, we have picked ten movies that discuss various mental health concerns, from anxiety disorders to personality disorders, with care, respect, and relatability.

Here are our picks:

  1. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook is an excellent portrayal of bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses that attempt to redefine what it means to have a mental illness. The film centers around Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who have bipolar disorder and an unnamed mental illness, respectively. Despite some criticism for dramatizing mental illness, the movie does a good job of depicting manic-depressive illness or bipolar disorder in someone who has some insight on it.

Watch Silver Linings Playbook on Amazon.com for $3.99.

  1. Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Girl, Interrupted is a movie that questions what it means to be “certifiably crazy.” The film follows Susanna (Winona Ryder), who struggles with borderline personality disorder (BPD) and checks herself into a women’s mental hospital. As she meets other women who are similar and different from her, Susanna begins to understand herself better.

Watch Girl, Interrupted on Amazon.com for $3.99.

  1. Black Swan (2010)

Black Swan is a psychological thriller that depicts the pressure and competition in the world of professional ballet. Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a ballerina who strives for perfection and suffers from anxiety, self-harm, and delusions. The movie shows how perfectionism and pressure can lead to mental health issues and ultimately harm a person’s mind.

Watch Black Swan on Amazon.com for $3.99.

  1. Rain Man (1988)

In the 1988 humorous classic Rain Man, we follow two brothers, Charlie (Tom Cruise) and Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) Babbitt, on an incredible journey of learning about disabilities. Charlie is an autistic savant who has an interesting take on life, and during their time together, he discovers that Raymond has an incredible memory and incomparable math skills. Rain Man is an uplifting film that raises awareness of mental health and is renowned for bringing autism into the public eye.

Watch Rain Man on Amazon.com for $3.99.

  1. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Is a film inspired by the true story of John Forbes Nash Jr. and the biography A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar. Mathematician John Nash quickly gains fame when he discovers a “game theory” that contradicts over a century of past economic theory. However, as the government continues to vie for his attention, his paranoid schizophrenia begins to take complete control. It’s a powerful film about overcoming a progressive mental illness.

Watch A Beautiful Mind on Amazon.com for $3.99.

  1. The Breakfast Club (1985)

A group of seemingly different high school kids are sentenced to detention on a Saturday afternoon. We immediately see the stereotypes: rebel, nerd, athlete, popular girl, and kook. However, we soon learn that each of them deals with some form of pressure that compromises their mental health. The Breakfast Club explores the space between those who appear to be “just fine” and those on the brink of collapse – something many people can relate to. If there’s anything to take away from the movie, it’s this line: “We’re all pretty bizarre. Some of us are just better at hiding it, that’s all.”

Watch The Breakfast Club on Amazon.com for $3.99.

  1. Good Will Hunting (1997)

Will Hunting (Matt Damon), a janitor at MIT who is a naturally bright young man with incredible puzzle-solving skills. However, Will comes from an abusive childhood, so although his mind is incredible, it is also quite troubled. Through regular meetings with a therapist (Robin Williams), Will successfully battles his depression and builds up his life. Good Will Hunting is a must-see if you’re looking for an uplifting, humorous classic.

Watch Good Will Hunting on Amazon.com for $3.99.

  1. Still Alice (2015)

Is a tear-jerker that follows a linguistics professor (Julianne Moore) as she faces her diagnosis for early onset Alzheimer’s disease. As her memory fades and she struggles to keep her life in order, the heartbreaking film chronicles the efforts of the family members who stay by her side and the ones who can no longer watch her deteriorate.

Watch Still Alice on Amazon.com for $3.99.

  1. The Aviator (2004)

Is a psychological biopic-drama that follows the life of Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio), a famous business mogul, movie director, and pilot whose life of frivolous spending and liaisons with Hollywood actresses is compromised as his obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) begins to take control. As his condition worsens and his life begins to plummet, we learn that his family has a history of OCD.

Watch The Aviator on Amazon.com for $3.99.

  1. Charlie Bartlett (2008)

Charlie Bartlett aims to communicate the concept that mental health affects all of us. Charlie Bartlett (Anton Yelchin) has been given a wealth of opportunities, but growing up without a father has caused him to act out and become withdrawn. He also struggles with ADHD. When he moves to public school, he finds that he isn’t the only kid with deep-seated problems as others begin to confide in him about their issues with family, body image, sexuality, and more. Though the way he goes about helping them is unconventional (conning psychiatrists to get free drugs), the experience helps him find his true calling.

Watch Charlie Bartlett on Amazon.com for $3.99.

Author Dr. Serenity

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