Mental health movies

You wake up slowly in the morning, wincing at the light spilling through the blinds. Walking over to the mirror, you stare at the reflection and don’t quite recognize the person staring back. Your skin feels a size too small, an ache in your stomach begs you to return to bed, and you can’t fathom the point of another day. You leave for morning class and put on a happy façade. No one will know…

Mental illness is something the media has told us to cover up, that for every pain there is a product, and we will never quite be enough. Take a breath, things are changing for the better and Hollywood is making strides for transparency with mental illness. They are embracing it in a new and quirky way, embodying how mental illness is temporary, natural, and nothing to be ashamed of. Hollywood’s typically image obsessed cinematography has taken a turn for the best with films that not only provide a relatable pick-me-up, but also challenge the negative stigma attached to mental illness. These two eccentric films have portrayed mental illness in a light of self-discovery, transformation, honesty, and humor. Watching one of these flicks may be a surprisingly relatable remedy for those days when your bed won’t let you leave.


It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

This melancholy comedy explores the contemplative and clinically depressed mind of 16 year old Craig Gilner. After attempting suicide, he realizes personal change is self-inflicted and admits himself to an adult psychiatric ward. He meets Bobby (played by Zach Galifianakis) who shows him around. Through an awkward friendship they teach each other acceptance and courage are some of the best natural remedies. Craig’s maturity makes helps him fit in and he finds himself in a comfortable place where his creativity aids in coping with some lingering inner demons. By exploring mental illness as an opportunity, self-discovery proves a powerful resource.  And I mean come on, there’s nothing like a little Galifianakis to bring a smile back to your face.


Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Two unique paths intertwine as Pat and Tiffany find an unusual common ground with similar track records peppered with the aftermath of mental health issues. Pat is compulsive and suffers from aggressive OCD, and Tiffany’s sex addiction inherently defines her. Through socialization and self-exploration, the two learn how to live with their mental illness. Tiffany’s love for dance creates a quirky platform for the pair to learn how to define themselves apart from their disease. As the family, friends, and the pair learn how to cope the movie follows the healing process instead of seeking a curing process. Through eccentrically emphasizing mental illness as a transformation, this movie highlights the impact creativity and open mindedness can have. Not to mention looking at Bradley Cooper is bound to perk you up a bit too.

So when your skin feels like it’s on backwards, and when your eyes plead to stay shut, take a deep breath and turn to some cinematically soothing therapy. By not letting mental illness define you, you may realize that normalcy isn’t the end goal.  Let your creative juices flow and you may be surprised when you look at the reflection one morning and think, “You’re pretty okay after all.”

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