Films And Television Shows That Address Mental Health

The powerful storytelling of these films and television shows destigmatize mental health conditions and promote empathy and understanding.

In this day and age, films and television shows tackling mental health issues inspire a profound impact on society. These visual narratives provide a platform for portraying authentic experiences and struggles in life. These cinematic gems present relatable characters and situations that make these topics more approachable, encouraging open conversations about mental health and promoting a greater awareness of these important issues.

As we honor International Self Care Day on July 24, let us acknowledge the power of these depictions to make a positive impact on mental health awareness. Here are some films and television shows that can inspire conversations about one’s emotional well being.

READ ALSO: Hitting The Big Screen: 10 Upcoming Films You Should See In 2024

Trigger warning: This article mentions themes related to mental health problems, including anxiety, depression, and emotional distress. Reader discretion is advised for those who may be sensitive to these topics.

“A Beautiful Mind” (2001)

In A Beautiful Mind, brilliant yet asocial mathematician John Nash, played by Russel Crowe, makes groundbreaking contributions through a theory in his expertise. However, as his career progresses, he begins to suffer from paranoid schizophrenia, leading to vivid hallucinations. 

Russel Crowe plays John Nash, a mathematician who got diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia
Russel Crowe plays John Nash, a mathematician who got diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia/Photo from IMDb

He eventually learns how to manage his symptoms through his wife’s support and his determination to overcome it. The film highlights Nash’s struggles, his achievements, and how love and perseverance play an important role to well being and mindsets. 

“Silver Linings Playbook” (2012)

Silver Linings Playbook depicts the story of a divorced man named Pat Solano, played by Bradley Cooper, who is battling bipolar disorder. He went into a mental health facility and eventually returned to live with his parents. He is determined to win back his estranged wife until he meets Tiffany, portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence, a young widow with her own mental health struggles.

They form an unconventional friendship and agree to help each other with their respective goals. Eventually both find personal growth amid their budding romance. The film explores the themes of family dynamics, living and coping with mental illnesses, and the search for silver linings in tough times.

“Inside Out 2” (2024)

Inside Out 2 is the sequel of the animated film Inside Out, which showed the inner workings of Riley’s mind. Riley, a young girl who formerly adapted to her family’s relocation, is now growing, so she experiences more complex emotions. She was familiar with only Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger, until she got into a hockey camp. In the second film, Riley develops her Sense of Self, which comprises her belief system, and has more emotions: Embarrassment, Envy, Ennui (or boredom, as the film called it), and Anxiety.

“Inside Out 2” shines light on complex feelings and how emotional awareness is essential for one’s growth
“Inside Out 2” shines light on complex feelings and how emotional awareness is essential for one’s growth/Photo via Instagram @pixar and @disney

Throughout the film, viewers would see takes on narratives like suppressed or bottled up emotions and anxiety attacks. Riley learns about emotional awareness and acceptance of all her feelings, and how they all contribute to maintaining a healthy mental state. The film shows that sometimes, all we need is to identify and feel our emotions. 

Inside Out 2 also became the first film this year that has hit $1 billion at the global box office as per Vogue. It also overtook Dune: Part 2 as the biggest box office debut of the year.

“Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (2015)

Rebecca Bunch has been a well-established lawyer in New York City, but in the midst of her success, she feels unhappy. She bumps into her ex-boyfriend from summer camp, Josh Chan, who, for her, represents her chance at true happiness. She dropped her glitzy life in the Big Apple for West Covina to pursue him but often led to absurd situations, hilarious ends, and sometimes, dark turns. Throughout the four-season musical series, she discovers she struggles with Borderline Personality Disorder.

The episodes explore her struggles and what goes on inside her head, oftentimes portrayed as musical numbers. Furthermore, it reminds audiences of the value of a supportive community, self-discovery, and the pursuit of happiness, albeit challenging. The path to recovery is not linear and may involve setbacks, but with determination and resilience, individuals can achieve a greater sense of fulfillment.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend casted Rachel Bloom as Rebecca, with Filipino actors such as Vincent Rodriguez III, Rene Gube, and Eugene Cordero. Rodriguez III plays Josh, Gube plays a Filipino priest, and Cordero is Josh’s boss at his job in an electronics store. Lea Salonga also appeared in one of the episodes as one of Josh’s aunts.

“Ted Lasso” (2020)

American football coach Ted Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis, unexpectedly becomes the head coach of an English Premier League soccer team called AFC Richmond. He withdrew into isolation as he was divorced from his wife, hadn’t seen his son in a long time, and lived in a foreign country. In the television series, Ted’s struggle with anxiety and panic attacks explores emotional vulnerability and his journey towards seeking help, including therapy. His portrayal shows that even an optimistic person can face and confront such challenges.

Head soccer coach Ted Lasso suffers from depression and anxiety due to isolation and disconnection
Head soccer coach Ted Lasso suffers from depression and anxiety due to isolation and disconnection/Photo from IMDb

The series blends humor with heartfelt moments as Ted’s unconventional methods and genuine kindness leave a lasting impression on those around him. Ted Lasso also fosters a compassionate conversation about mental health. Everyone, regardless of their outward demeanor, can benefit from support and understanding.

“Spinning Out” (2020)

Kaya Scodelario plays Kat Baker, a talented figure skater in the film Spinning Out, whose her career gets derailed due to a devastating fall. Her accident caused her post traumatic stress disorder. She also battles bipolar disorder, which her mom has, too. She wants to continue doing what she is passionate about, so she pairs up with another skater, Justin Davis (Evan Roderick), to pursue pair skating.

Kat Baker proves that no mental health condition stands a chance when motivation and passion come into play
Kat Baker proves that no mental health condition stands a chance when motivation and passion come into play/Photo from IMDb

The television series navigated the competitive realm of figure skating alongside family secrets, mental health struggles, and resilience. It also shows the fear of stigma that individuals with mental health illnesses experience as they try to explore their condition in secret. However, the series also highlights that nothing could ever stand in one’s way if they’re determined to continue what they’ve started. 

Banner photo from IMDb.

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