8 Films about Mental Health to Remind You That You’re Not Alone
Photo: Columbia TriStar
You are not alone. But man, it certainly feels like you are sometimes, doesn’t it? That’s the thing about depression and other forms of mental illness; when you’re alone, you don’t want to be but, when you’re with people, you just want to be left alone. Quite frankly, there are days you wish you weren’t around at all, right?
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But here’s the thing; millions of people in the U.S. struggle with depression and other forms of mental illness. Hollywood seems to be catching onto this fact. While some movies merely depict mental illness as an excuse to be a serial killer, other films are significantly more insightful.
Here are eight films about mental health to remind you that (say it with us this time) you are not alone.
'It's Kind of a Funny Story' (2010)
When 16-year-old Craig Gilner checks himself into a mental-health clinic because he’s feeling suicidal, he gains an entirely new perspective on life, death, and the human spirit. Gilner finds kindred spirits in both Bobby (Zach Galifianakis) and Noelle (Emma Roberts). He learns many lessons while in the clinic, but the most important one is that life is absolutely worth living.
While the premise of It’s Kind of a Funny Story seems far-fetched, the movie is actually based on a memoir by Ned Vizzini. Typically, adults and adolescents are kept as far away as possible in a mental institution, but everything else about this film is pretty spot on. Patients seeking mental health care are often “regular” people trying to figure things out, more Craig Gilner than Michael Myers.
'Girl, Interrupted' (1999)
Sometimes, it’s the world beyond the walls of the mental hospital that is really crazy. That’s the story depicted in Girl, Interrupted anyway. Based on the memoir of the same name by Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted is about a young woman who's struggling to survive and who enters a psychiatric facility for help.
Girl, Interrupted aims to show that the “craziest” among us are just broken, hurt and really, really sad.
'Reign Over Me' (2007)
Reign Over Me examines the after-effects of 9/11. Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler) lost his family in the terrorist attack and is dealing with survivor guilt and PTSD. Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) is a family man trying to balance work and life and the sudden reappearance of his college roommate, Charlie.
The film explores loss, regret, friendship, and peace in a way that shows sometimes a person doesn’t need therapy or pills or a stint in the psych ward. Sometimes a person just needs a friend.
'Lights Out' (2016)
Depression can be crippling, not only for those who are afflicted with it, but for their loved ones as well. Lights Out acts as almost a parable for depression. It tells the story of a young woman who left her childhood fears, as well as her mother, in the past. Her mother, it seems, is attached to a demonic entity that only shows up when the lights are off. Even though this entity has ruined her life, the mother has a fondness for this entity; not because the mother is evil, but because she has grown up with it and become comfortable with it. She finally realizes that her family is more important than the evil surrounding her and she must make a decision to free herself, and her family, of this vengeful spirit.
'A Star is Born' (2018)
Country music singer Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper) discovers that a young woman named Ally (Lady Gaga) can sing like nobody he has ever heard before. Jackson helps Ally build a career and while doing that, the two fall in love. As Jackson’s alcoholism and depression begin to move to the forefront, Ally must watch the star fade from his eyes as it rises in her own.
This movie shows the havoc that depression and addiction can take on a person and their relationships. Sometimes, love is not enough.
'Born on the Fourth of July' (1989)
Born on the Fourth of July follows Ron Kovic (Tom Cruise), a paralyzed veteran who returns home after two stints in Vietnam. He is an embittered, resentful man who gave his body and mind to a war that people condemned him for serving in. This film serves as a reminder to viewers the effects that war has on the body, on the brain, and on the heart. Like many real-life situations, it doesn’t have a happy ending.
'A Beautiful Mind' (2001)
In A Beautiful Mind, Russel Crowe stars as John Forbes Nash Jr., a mathematical genius who finds international acclaim after making a revolutionary discovery. Unfortunately, he also suffers from schizophrenia. This film shows that minds are beautiful, hurtful, mysterious things that can both lift us up and send us crashing down.
'Welcome to Marwen' (2018)
A lot of the time, people suffering from mental illness feel like their brains are working against them. This film shows how sometimes our mind can be the thing that saves our life.
Mark Hogancamp (Steve Carell) is the victim of a devastating attack that leaves him with no memory at all…so he creates his own. This film begs the question: when our minds fail us, is there a way to “rewire” them? As the tagline goes, “When your only weapon is your imagination, you’ll find courage in the most unexpected place.”