Movies that have helped you with your mental health

7th Nov 2017
Challenging mental health inequalities
Mental health

This content mentions suicide or suicidal thoughts, death and bereavement, substance abuse and addiction (which may include mentions of alcohol or drug use), personality disorders, trauma and depression. Please read with care. There are details of where to find help at the bottom of this page.

We asked you: What movies have taught you about mental health? Are there any movies that have helped with your own mental health?

You answered with a list of films that explore a range of issues people living with mental ill health may experience.

You suggested films focused on mental health institutions and rehab (such as ‘28 days’, 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' and 'Silver Linings Playbook'). Films with powerful portrayals and insights into individual experience of mental ill health (such as ‘Black Swan’ and ‘Mr Jones’) to lighter films that explore changing human emotions in a playful or delicate way (such as the animation ‘Inside Out’ or ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’).

We have put the full list below for you to explore.


Powerful individual portrayals and insights

A Beautiful Mind

This is a powerful story about a man (played by Russell Crowe) who is a brilliant mathematician making ground-breaking contributions whilst experiencing life with schizophrenia.

Black Swan

Black Swan is amazing... I can watch it over and over again

- Alee on Facebook

This drama / mystery follows the life of Nina (played by Natalie Portman), a committed ballerina who takes the lead place in Swan Lake whilst beginning to experience a deterioration in her mental health.

Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting is a great movie about finding the Right Therapist

- Deb on Facebook

Will Hunting (played by Matt Damon) has a gift for maths and when this is spotted by a professor, it is agreed that he will teach Will if he commits to seeing a therapist. This film follows the powerful relationship built between Will and his therapist (played by Robin Williams).

Benny & Joon

This follows the relationship between Benny (played by Aidan Quinn) and his sister Joon (played by Mary Stuart Masterson). Joon lives with mental ill-health and Benny cares for her. Complications arise as she begins a relationship with the eccentric Sam (played by Johnny Depp).

Brain on Fire

Brain on Fire is a good read and looking forward to the movie

- Jess on Facebook

This is based on the true story of Susannah Cahalan (played by Chloë Grace Moretz) who was a journalist at the New York Times. The story follows her life as she experiences a rare neurological disease. She struggles to live with this and to get a accurate diagnosis.

Love Liza

This film follows Wilson (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman) as he struggles with the loss of his wife who took her own life. As the film progresses, he goes through the stages of grief and builds his relationship with his mother-in-law (played by Kathy Bates).

Virgin Suicides

The Virgin Suicides follows the life of five sisters. The Lisbon girls live in suburbia in Michigan and end up taking their own lives. The story is told through the viewpoint of the men who knew them when they were teenagers and the mystery surrounding their story.

Short Term 12

It's amazing and deals with PTSD and depression pretty accurately

- Erin (Mental Health Foundation)

This delicate indie drama is set in a home for troubled teenagers. It follows a carer (played by Brie Larson), her relationship with a co-worker (played by John Gallagher) and their interactions with the teenagers alongside their own personal struggles. It is a moving and compassionate film.

Representations of mental health institutions and rehab

Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted was a good watch as a film set in a hospital for mental illness. Gritty but uplifting enough in places!

- Claire on Facebook

I have seen Girl, Interrupted and it was very good

- Kate on Facebook

This follows the life of 18 year old Susanna (played by Winona Ryder) as she is admitted to a mental health institution for young women. The film follows the relationships she builds with the other women inside the institution.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

This film tells the story of Randle Patrick McMurphy (played by Jack Nicholson) who is transferred from a prison to a mental health institution. The film focuses on his relationship with Nurse Ratched (played by Louise Fletcher), who runs the psychiatric ward under tight rules and the other patients as they start to rally around him.

28 Days

Gwen Cummings (played by Sandra Bullock) ends up in lots of difficult situations after regularly drinking too much with her boyfriend. One particular incident at her sister's wedding finds her being ordered to rehab. The film follows her 28 days at rehab and the realisations she has during her stay.

Mr Jones

Excellent performance of a man with bipolar by Richard Gere

- Alison on Facebook

In this film Mr Jones (played by Richard Gere) experiences impulsive moments whilst living with bipolar, after one particular moment he finds himself in a mental health hospital and assigned a psychiatrist. Throughout the film, you follow his developing romantic relationship with his psychiatrist (played by Lena Olin).

Playful, delicate and abstract depictions

Inside Out

Inside Out helped me understand a little better

- Tabitha on Facebook

Inside Out is a children's animation that follows the life of 11 year old Riley (played by Kaitlyn Dias) as she struggles to cope with the family move to San Francisco. The film expresses the different emotions that the characters go through in a playful way, through creating animated characters for each emotion: Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust.

Silver Linings Playbook

This follows the story of Pat Solatano (played by Bradley Cooper) as he rebuilds his life after the breakdown of his marriage, losing his job and then spending time in a mental health institution. The film represents his experience of living with mental ill-health and the key relationships that help him with recovery. His love interest (Jennifer Lawrence) and their dance competition make this film light yet powerful.

Goodbye Christopher Robin

Very subtle and yet powerful film

- Ruth on Facebook

Goodbye Christopher Robin tells the story of A. A. Milne and the creation of 'Winnie the Pooh'. The film shows how the books helped a post-war England find hope and positivity through the power of children's stories.

Swiss Army Man

Very light hearted and funny but gets the point across

- Kirsty on Facebook

This abstract story follows the journey of Hank (played by Paul Dano), a young man stranded on a deserted Island who has given up all hope of getting home. As he is about to take his own life, he sees a dead corpse (played by Daniel Radcliffe) and starts a surreal friendship whilst adventuring back to the mainland.

Mary and Max

This animated story follows the unlikely pen-pal friendship between a young Australian girl (played by Toni Collette) and a elderly Jewish man (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman), both sharing a feeling of loneliness.

Little Miss Sunshine

Steve Carell's character and the way the family finds different ways of discussing his suicide attempt acceptable/unacceptable

- Erin (Mental Health Foundation)

This indie comedy follows a family as they road trip across America to give their little girl Olive (played by Abigail Breslin) a chance at winning the Little Miss Sunshine contest. The film addresses the uncle's (played by Steve Carrell) attempt to take his own life.

If you are feeling like ending your life or feel unable to keep yourself safe, please call 999 or go to A&E and ask for the contact of the nearest crisis resolution team. These are teams of mental health care professionals who work with people in severe distress. If you feel affected by the content you have read, please see our get help page for support.

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