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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

TW: Mental Illness, Suicide

Despite the growing acceptance and understanding behind mental illness, it still can seem like the entertainment industry gets it wrong, often stigmatizing, abusing, or flat out dehumanize the people with these mental health problems.

But Hollywood has grown and heard the critiques over the years and there are some films and shows that do a decent or even pretty good job with their portrayal of mental health.

Of course, a disclaimer that these are not all the shows that have portrayed mental health accurately, nor are they perfect. Each person’s experience is their own.

Also, minor spoilers are ahead.

Movies

A Beautiful Mind (Schizophrenia) 

A biographical drama about mathematician John Nash, this movie focuses on balancing his schizophrenia with his family life and job. Although criticized for dramatizing Nash’s life, the portrayal of schizophrenia is able to show the struggle of differentiating reality and fiction and the grandiose feeling the person may have. This movie does, however, portray a “quick treatment” for the illness, which is inaccurate, as it takes time and long-term treatment.

Silver Linings Playbook (Bipolar Disorder)

Patrick “Pat” Solitano Jr. is released from a psychiatric hospital and moves back in with his parents, determined to win back his estranged wife. He meets a young widow, Tiffany Maxwell who offers to help him get his wife back if he enters a dance competition with her. This movie is able to balance the seriousness of BD while humanizing the characters, especially the chaos from going off medication, citing how people feel they’ll lose a part of themselves if they take it.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower (PTSD)

This drama film centers around Charlie and his friends as they go through freshman year, each battling different mental health problems, including depression, PTSD, and anxiety. Showing how these mental illnesses can both affect a person and those around them, the movie also allows the characters to react as teenagers would, focusing on the complexities of their lives and relationships rather than writing them as some cardboard stereotypes of their illness. 

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (Trauma)

This critically acclaimed movie is about a fictional experiment that wipes people’s memories. Joel, the main character, has been erased from his girlfriend’s memories so he decides to undergo the same procedure. During this time, however, he realizes that he wants to keep his memories. It explores the consequences of wiping traumatic events from your mind, this movie shows the healthy way to process them and how sometimes trauma can help a person grow.

T.V. Shows

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety, and Depression) Netflix

A four-season comedy-musical that ran from 2015-2019 about Rebecca Bunch, a successful but unhappy New York City lawyer who has a chance encounter with an ex-boyfriend, Josh Chan, and promptly drops everything to move to West Covina, California to find him and make him fall in love with her again. While the characters do break into song, instead of going in a “cheesy” direction, the songs help viewers digest and normalize seemingly scary mental illnesses like BPD, and common misconceptions around depression.

You’re the Worst (Depression) Hulu 

A dramedy about Gretchen and Jimmy, two selfish people who decide to navigate a relationship all while trying to work on themselves. In the second season, it’s revealed that Gretchen suffers from clinical depression and how much she’s tried to hide it, both for fear of the stigma but also because she doesn’t fully understand what’s wrong with her so how can anyone else. The writers are able to handle this sensitive topic by not trying to “cure” the character after meeting a guy but allowing her to open up and prove that a relationship can work despite the ups and downs that can’t always be controlled.

This Is Us (Depression, Anxiety, Addiction) NBC

Following the lives of three children and their parents, this show has been critically acclaimed for its portrayal of mental health. Each member of the family, with the timelines being both past and present, struggles with their own demons, and through the five (soon to be six) seasons, it manages to put thoughtful storylines around depression and panic attacks, shedding light on how stigma and misconceptions, especially around POC and men, can hinder the help needed for people. It also humanizes those with addictions, specifically alcohol, and the need for compassion.

The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (PTSD) Netflix

After fifteen years, Kimmy Schmidt is rescued from a religious cult in an underground bunker and decides to move to New York City to have a normal life. A four-season comedy, this show manages to tackle PTSD in a lighthearted but truthful way, showing how someone can both accept the trauma from the past but also learn to embrace the present.

Sophomore at JMU, screenwriter, lover of all things film and T.V shows.
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