Movies That Get Mental  

Since its inception, the film industry has been one of the most popular and powerful mediums of creative expression in modern history. And when those powers are used to raise awareness and spark thoughtful discussion, the industry succeeds in not only entertaining audience members, but in educating them and bridging cultural gaps that exist between them, as well.

From bipolar disorder to depression and PTSD, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that more than 57 million people ages 18 and older in the United States suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder within any given year.

As we pause to recognize May as Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s take a look at some of Hollywood’s most iconic takes on mental illness and the impacts it has on both the individual and the people around them.

 ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST – In what is widely regarded as one of his greatest performances ever, Jack Nicholson shines as the rebelious R.P. McMurphy  – a profane Pied Piper who inspires his fellow patients to live life beyond both the walls of their minds and the institution that seeks to imprison them.  


GIRL, INTERRUPTED – Based on a true story, this film from 1999 stars some of the most respected young actresses of their generation, and chronicles the lives of young women sent to a mental institution in the 1960’s.  


BENNY & JOON – In this delightful story about love – both romantic and otherwise –  Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson star as a star-crossed couple who redefine their own sense of normalcy in a world bent on conformity.



A BEAUTIFUL MIND – This film depicting the real-life struggle of the beautiful, brilliant and troubled mind of John Nash earned Russell Crowe one of his two Academy Awards for Best Actor, and shed new light on the complexities of the human psyche. 


FIGHT CLUB – An unforgettable and edgy take on multiple personality disorder, 1999’s Fight Club starring Brad Pitt and Edward Norton takes audiences on an insomniac’s thrilling journey from the totally mundane to high octane and back.



Did we miss a movie about mental illness on our list?  If you want to add a title, please “Join the Conversation” on Facebook and Twitter and help Wiles raise awareness all month long!

For more information about mental disorders and resources for help, please visit the National Institute for Mental Health website at:



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