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Mental Health at the Movies

How do films these days actually handle the topic of mental health?

It's no secret that the topic of mental health is becoming a more talked about subject in today's society. The media, in particular, is doing a good job of shining a light on the subject and helping remove any stigma that still remains. Over time, the representation of mental health in film has evolved and become arguably more truthful. There are plenty of films that include storylines based on a mental health disorder. Let's take a look at some.

1) Girl, Interrupted

This film is primarily based on an all girl's psychiatric ward. Starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie, this film takes a look at the experiences of the main character after having checked herself into the ward due to personal mental health issues. As well as this, the film looks at the relationships she builds with the other girls, who have multiple mental health disorders. This increases awareness of the different illnesses that might bring someone to this kind of ward. Having watched this film, I think it is a fantastic representation of how these facilities used to be like, given that it is set in the 1960s, and how they might have changed over time.

2) Silver Linings Playbook

This is one of my favourite films because I feel like it takes an honest approach towards mental health. The film centres around the main character Pat, played by Bradley Cooper, after recently being released from a psychiatric facility. The audience sees him trying to rebuild his life, including moving in with his parents who really want the best for him and trying to rekindle his relationship with his wife despite her restraining order. Along the way, Pat meets Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who pushes him out of his comfort zone by asking him to participate in a dance competition with her. The dynamic between these two characters is far from simple and I believe this is a more truthful representation of the topic of mental health as it highlights how mental health can cause some relationships to become rocky. This film really shows that.

3) The Perks of Being A Wallflower

This teen movie is more interested in the bittersweet relationships built during teenage years and can be classed as a teen romance. However, there is an underlying storyline about the impact that mental health can have on teenagers. This is shown through the main character Charlie, played by Logan Lerman. We see his unsteady journey through high school and his desperate attempt to make new friends, including Sam, played by Emma Watson. His recurring narration throughout the film touches on the issues of mental health multiple times. This is so important, I feel, as mental disorders can have a huge effect on teenagers in today's society and this movie sheds a light on this aspect of the subject.

4) It's Kind of a Funny Story

This film takes a more comedic approach towards mental health and shows that not everything about mental health is dire. The movie focuses on the main character Craig, who is checked into a psychiatric hospital after having suicidal thoughts. However, he is forced to live among the adult patients due to the youth ward being recently closed down. As he struggles to stay for the mandatory five days, the audience sees him develop friendships with the other patients, including Bobby, who becomes Craig's mentor in the wing. As well as this, he meets Noelle with whom a romance blossoms. Overall, this movies takes a humorous approach towards the topic and raises awareness that sometimes comedy can help with some mental disorders.

So, there we have it. Mental health can now be said to be a topic that is much more widely discussed in our society. This means it reaches the masses and helps normalise the subject. Looking at the way these films have changed, it seems that today's media is taking this subject a lot more seriously.

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