Mental Health in the Movies



Mental Health in the Movies


The subject of mental health still has stigma attached and for some seeing characters brought to life in movies can help destigmatise this sometimes-uncomfortable subject matter. However, these characters can be portrayed to extreme and as murderers and villains too.

We looked at films with powerful portrayals and insights into an individual’s mental health. If these films are not familiar, you may wish to explore them.  read on for our top 5 mental health movies:

Top 5 Movies Portraying Mental Health Issues

A Beautiful Mind (2001)

The Oscar- winning drama charts the life and works of famed economist John Forbes Nash Jr., a brilliant man plagued by the anguish of mental illness. Played by Russell Crowe, Nash makes ground breaking contributions whilst experiencing life with schizophrenia.

Black Swan (2010)

A psychological thriller set in the world of the New York City ballet. The film depicts a young woman’s decent into fear and paranoia. Played by Natalie Portman, Nina a committed ballerina takes the lead part in Swan Lake whilst she begins to experience a deterioration in her mental health. Some have suggested that Nina’s hallucinations and delusions makes paranoid schizophrenia a characteristic diagnosis, she may also have a differential diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder.

Good Will Hunting (1997)  

This is a great movie about finding the right therapist. The lead character is Will Hunting, a young genius who fails to realise his talent until it is discovered by the award-winning mathematician, Professor Lambeau played by Robin Williams. He agrees to counsel Will to enable the boy to find his destiny.

Mr Jones (2013)

Mr Jones portrays a character who is living with bipolar. Mr Jones, played by Richard Gere, experiences impulsive moments whilst living with bipolar. After one particular episode he finds himself in a mental health hospital and assigned a psychiatrist. The film follows his developing relationship with his psychiatrist played by Lisa Olin.


We couldn’t not mention the classic ………

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

When Randle Patrick McMurphy played by Jack Nicholson gets transferred for evaluation from a prison farm to a mental institution, he assumes it will be a less restrictive environment. However, the disciplinarian nurse Ratched runs the psychiatric ward with an iron fist. This keeps the patients browbeaten through abuse, medication and sessions of electroconvulsive therapy (Interestingly this is still used today for treatment resistant depression). The battle of wills that ensures between McMurphy and Ratched soon involves all the other patients.

Have your own ideas about classic movies portraying mental health issues?  Why not let us know in the comments…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 in 4 people in England need mental health support*

We’re here to ensure you do not have to face it alone.

If you feel like you need professional help, we’re a private mental health hospital in Windsor with nurses on hand 24 hours a day who provide expert clinical treatment.

You can call Cardinal Clinic on 01753 869755 for confidential help and advice or send us an enquiry.

*McManus, S., Meltzer, H., Brugha, T. S., Bebbington, P. E., & Jenkins, R. (2009). Adult psychiatric morbidity in England, 2007: results of a household survey.

Read more like this