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Mental Health

Is It Healthy to Relate to Coming-of-Age-Films?: A Quick Dive into Film Therapy

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

Whenever someone asks me: “What’s your favorite movie?”, I always respond with coming-of-age films. These types of films have been around to gear more towards the teenage and young adult scene. I personally have loved them since I can remember, and as a twenty-two-year-old college student, I still cannot get enough of them. They tend to hit the soft spot in my mind and comfort me. Some of my personal favorites include The Edge of Seventeen, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Boy. The basis of these films is that the main character is usually given some type of conflict – something that most of us can relate to. Whether it’s finding a love partner, trying to pass school, family drama, etc. there is most likely a coming-of-age film that you can relate to. But the real question is: is it healthy to be relating to these films?

This type of question was brought up to me over this past summer. I was telling a group of friends about an experience I had, and one of my friends responded with: “like the girl in Lady Bird!”. While I was a little flattered that I was being compared to such a great movie, but I couldn’t help to feel weird about my personal experiences being like a Hollywood production film. I know the feeling is different for everyone. While some may find it comforting that other people can relate to conflicts and scenes in films, it just didn’t sit right with me. This is mainly because the conflict that I was compared to be a type of conflict that shouldn’t have happened in the first place and disgusts me to think about. And while pondering this thought, I couldn’t help but think about how many other people could relate to that specific conflict.

While researching, I found a post from PsychCentral stating that watching movies (not only coming-of age films) can benefit your mental health. This technique is commonly used under the name “Film Therapy”. The idea of benefitting your mental help comes from choosing movies that are based on your current problems and/or situations. They give us a short break from whatever we are dealing with. While watching a movie, you are placed in a different time and area, and you are sucked into the story line. It gives you a distraction and a sense of relief while watching movies. Another online magazine named Film Threat backs up the statement that films can help your mental health. Not only can movies give you a sense of relief and emotion, but they can also help you understand yourself and inspire creativity in the mind. Movies, especially coming-of-age films, give you a character that you can not only relate to, but give you a reflection about yourself. I know there have been a few films that after I saw them, I had a different understanding of different conflicts. So, while it is not bad to relate to certain types of films, they can benefit your mental health while watching them.

In all, my negative experience cannot reflect the experiences and feelings that other people have had. There have been a few films that I can relate to and have made me feel a different way. Just the one idea of my awful experience being broadcasted and related by many other people can affect me differently. Coming-of-age movies can be beneficial to your mental health in many more ways than what I have listed above. So next time you’re feeling down, it’s not a bad idea to pick up a good film and just sink into the storyline.

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Savanna Fiegl

Winthrop '23

she/they i am a digital information design major with a concentration in digital mass media
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