“How are you?” is such a simple question.
When one asks this, it simply means how is the other person feeling. But it is often misunderstood that it is only being asked about your physical health and not your mental health.
Mental health is equally as important as physical health. If the mind is not sound and healthy, your body will never remain healthy.
If any person suffers from any kind of mental illness, it can be cured just like any other physical disease. All a mental health patient needs are a good psychiatrist, love, and support from the people who are close to him and a little bit of acceptance in the society which he belongs to.
But there is a stigma attached to mental health issues. If anyone says that they are facing some issues, people quickly describe them as crazy, mad. It is not so easy. No one was born crazy or mad.
Some people start having certain issues with their minds when they have faced certain things in life which they were not prepared for. With a little professional help, these people can resume their previous lives once again.
To remove this stigma around mental health, Mental Health Awareness Week is being celebrated all around the world since 2019. Therefore, during this week we will talk about how it is normal for a person to feel unhealthy in their mind and how can we, as a society, help these people.
Movies are an integral part of our life which can bring a change in the way a society thinks. It is not quite easy for moviemakers to make such movies which address the issues of Mental health because there is always the chance of depicting an illness more severe than it is, or less severe. But certain movies have been made to create more awareness about mental illness.
So, here is a list of 10 movies you must watch for increased awareness about mental health issues:
This movie tells the story of Howard Hughes, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, and how he builds his fortune while struggling with intrusive symptoms of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The director has gone to great lengths to depict Hughes in the most accurate way possible. At the beginning of the movie, the audience sees Hughes as a rising filmmaker but with the growth in his fortunes and ventures, there is a significant growth in his OCD. His life gets limited and drives others to estrangement. As the film progresses, his symptoms worsen. Such movies are a realistic portrayal of a man’s decades-long struggle with this mental illness.
Alice, a linguistics professor, struggles with the early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The role of Alice played by Julianne Moore, Alice suffers through heartbreak and is frustrated with her disease. She starts out by forgetting names, words, and locations and then gradually stops recognizing her own family. Eventually, her children cannot bear to see her emotional pain and therefore stop visiting her. The audience sees Alice’s life being slowly ripped away leading to suicidal thoughts in her mind.
TO THE BONE
Written and directed by Marti Noxon, starring Lily Collins and Keanu Reeves, this movie is about a 20-year old college dropout, Ellen, who is suffering from anorexia. She desperately tries to recover from her condition but is unable to. The movie is a haunting and realistic depiction of anorexia. The movie also addresses the grief associated when someone loses a parent. Ellen goes to see her mother who is on the death bed. Ellen’s talk with her mother motivates her to embrace her treatment program and move forward with recovery.
MANCHESTER BY THE SEA
It is an Oscar-nominated film featuring Casey Affleck. The film is about the story of Lee Chandler whose brother dies during the movie from a heart attack. Thereafter, Lee becomes the legal guardian of his nephew. Lee struggles with addiction and suicidality because of his past. Substance use and depression are the issues that are discussed in the film. Chandler’s nephew becomes instrumental in helping him recover from these conditions.
A BEAUTIFUL MIND
A powerful story played by Russell Crowe about a man who is a brilliant mathematician making pioneering contributions while struggling with schizophrenia in his personal life. The movie won an Oscar in 2001. We see John Nash dealing with his condition from the early onset of his disease. He eventually forsakes drug treatments which were having a negative effect on the other normal aspects of his life. He aspires to conquer his condition by the force of sheer willpower.
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST
This film tells the story of Randle Patrick McMurphy who is transferred from a prison to a mental health institution. The film focuses on McMurphy’s relationship with Nurse Ratched who runs the psychiatry ward under tight rules. This classic movie took back home 5 Oscars. The major theme of the movie was the gross mistreatment of the psychiatric patients in the sixties and the criminalization and ostracization of free-thinking, anti-authoritative people. There are characters in the movie who suffer from anxiety disorders, epilepsy, deafness, and muteness.
The death of a young man in a tragic boat accident sends his family reeling into grief, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and survivor’s guilt. This movie highlights the stigma around psychiatric treatment for many people and helps us in understanding the urgent need to encourage awareness among young people about depression, suicidal tendencies, and what are the helps available to them. The movie’s director Robert Redford received an Oscar award for his direction.
Silver Linings is the story of a young bipolar man released from a psychiatric hospital and in the hope of reuniting with his estranged wife with the help of a young widow. This movie cracked up a slew of Oscar nominations and other awards. The audience perceived the movie as a relatively balanced depiction of manic depression and bipolar disorder. Both the husband and wife are suffering from mental health issues but in Pat’s case, it is bipolar disorder while in Tiffany’s case it is not clear as to what disease is, she is suffering from. The movie is perched on a razor’s edge between comedy and psychological drama.
This movie covers several themes of mental illness. Nina Sayers, a professional ballerina suffers from an eating disorder along with chronic hallucinations. She suffers from Bulimia Nervosa as she is seen vomiting in the film. Eating disorders have been a profoundly serious problem throughout history and have come to a peak in the last few decades. The overall theme of the movie lies in the metaphor that for achieving perfection, the unfortunate price of it must be paid for. The movie also puts in the spotlight the problem of eating disorders in the dance world which persists today.
It is a psychological horror film directed by Adrian Lyne. The film follows Jacob, a Vietnam war veteran who experiences intensely scary flashbacks and hallucinations following his experiences during the war. There is nothing fictional about what survivors of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) endure daily. Symptoms of PTSD include disturbing thoughts and dreams, along with mental and physical distress. The film also comments on the life of a soldier who goes to war in general and what do these soldiers have to face apart from the glorification of their achievements. This movie was fully accurate in showing what exactly does a patient suffering from PTSD feels like. Totally among one of the must-watch movies.
In our continued efforts to create mental health awareness in the world, these movies will help in a better understanding of the feelings of the mentally disturbed people.
Apart from movies, books help people heal in many ways.
With unfathomable love for language and a perpetual desire to explore new vocab I find my solace in reading and trying my hand at writing.