What better way to learn about things when you live for movies?
Being an extremely popular medium of entertainment, the film industry across the globe holds a fair amount of power to move people with whatever they might have to convey. However, apart from the mere purpose of entertainment, these films often draw our attention to things that are not discussed much - mental health being one of them.
Here is a list of movies you may watch to experience the world with a different lens, and also recommend to your near and dear ones to let them know that mental health exists, even on the big screen!
1. Taare Zameen Par
With its focus on Dyslexia, this film starring Aamir Khan highlighted the stigma as well as the complexities that begin to develop as soon as a child shows developmental issues or symptoms of a learning disorder. The movie embraces dyslexia and everything that it has to offer, only to let society know that grades and discipline are not the only markers for success!
2. 15 Park Avenue
Back in 2005, when the mental health crisis hadn't seen the light outside the tunnel, Aparna Sen's 15 Park Avenue threw light on Schizophrenia, a mental disorder characterised by hallucinations and altering reality with a hint of romance and drama for people to digest the movie. The movie captures the protagonist's life as a whole, showcasing how the illness has left its mark in every sphere of her life.
3. Dear Zindagi
While relating to the chaos and joys of an adult, Dear Zindagi takes us on a journey of self-realization and healing whenever Kaira walks in for a session with Dr Jahangir. With its aim to normalize therapy and communication around mental health within four walls of one’s home sweet home, Dear Zindagi had open conversations around and about everything an adult goes through regardless of them being at their peak or their lowest. The movie goes beyond therapy and the relationship between a therapist and a client, reminding us that each has a story to tell!
4. Margarita, With A Straw
With a sense of uniqueness as well sensitivity, Margarita, With A Straw is known to have been unlike any other Indian movie, with its subject matter ranging from disability to sexuality and queerness. With so much to offer, the film deals with mental health in different spheres of the protagonist's life, who's marked with Cerebral Palsy. Cerebral palsy (CP) refers to a group of disorders that affect muscle movement and coordination due to impairment in the brain. Rather than victimizing the individual, the movie makes a breakthrough in handling the character with utmost optimism and motivation to help the audiences acknowledge the condition instead of pitying it.
5. Girl. Interrupted
With its focus on mental health institutions like psychiatric hospitals and mental disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder, the movie Girl, Interrupted, in its true sense, has captured what institutionalisation and stigma do to an individual. However, the movie also allows us to normalise mental health and that sometimes, a “cure” is just acceptance of self.
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
While dealing with the stigma attached to mental health, Wallflower deals with different narratives from an adolescent’s life. Having suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after his best friend’s demise, Charlie had apprehensions about attending school due to the mere assumptions people might make of him. Wallflower beautifully integrates the social complexities of mental health with childhood experiences to shed light on sensitivity, compassion and affection.
7. The Vow
Based on true events, The Vow showcases how mental disorders impact human relations. After having met with a cruel accident, the newly married couple lives a rollercoaster life, wherein the wife loses her memory of the past 5 years due to Retrograde Amnesia, which developed as a result of a brain injury during the accident. Life takes a toll on them, leaving the persistent husband hanging in the middle for his wife’s memory to someday knock on the door again!
8. Mozart and the Whale
Beautifully depicting a relationship developing people from different walks of life, yet connected through complexities of their life, this movie explores the dynamics of an atypical relationship! Having started from showing the lead characters' journey from an autism support group, the movie explores varying degrees of Asperger's Syndrome between the couple while embracing their love for each other.
9. Silver Linings Playbook
With its ultimate focus on Bipolar Disorder, the movie tries to capture the nitty-gritties of the person's life marked with it. In due course of time, alongside the protagonist's romantic relationship, the movie reminds us how we are so much more than just labels!
10. The King’s Speech
With its primary focus on stuttering as being one of the major issues, the movie is based on true events about how King George VI battled his anxiety to be able to speak publicly. Even though the movie doesn't focus entirely on mental health, parts of it highlight the king's relationship with his speech therapist. It also allows us to see how sometimes our insecurities can make us uncomfortable and anxious. Moreover, the movie goes beyond stuttering to explain the possible deep-rooted causes of the same, arising from one's childhood!
The list definitely goes beyond just 10 movies mentioned above, but one thing to always keep in mind while grasping information from mediums of entertainment like that of films is that by the end of the day, they will always have an aim to entertain the audience. As a result of which, even the best movies are also sometimes subjected to criticism from the community, as they tend to sugarcoat or even exaggerate a few things only to add that kick to a film. Therefore, it is always recommended to watch these movies with a sense of subjectivity while also appreciating their aim and effort toward the field of mental health.
Join our community at Now&Me to start conversations around movies about mental health and feel free to drop in some of your recommendations!
This blog post was proofread and edited by our in-house psychologist, Shaifila.