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Awareness of mental health issues has risen steadily over the years. Dive into this list of the best films about struggling with mental illness.

Must-See Movies That Portray Mental Health

The best movies don’t need a lot of violence or chaos to be exciting or interesting. In fact, sometimes the best films come from looking inward for sources of turmoil that can feel more real than any sort of car chase or gunfight. We’re talking about real stories that explore mental illness and what kinds of mental illness can have a profound impact on people, their relationships, and their work lives. 

While mental illness holds a stigma in society, that stigma is decreasing as people become more aware that mental health is as significant as physical health and should be talked about. The range of genres is wider than ever before. 

From rom-coms to psych thrillers, there are so many movies to catch your attention while also exploring the concepts behind mental illness and its effects. We are going to review some of the best film centered around mental illness 

Silver Linings Playbook

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in this film centered around Pat’s ( the main character’s) bipolar disorder. Meanwhile Jennifer Lawrence plays her own award-winning character who is widowed and still grieving her husband’s death. The movie portrays two people with seemingly complicated lives who find refuge in each other. The movie shows that healing is not linear and sometimes all you need is someone else who understands what you’re going through. Rebuilding your life after traumatic events is not something that’s always easy, but it sure is a struggle that everyone can relate to at one time or another. 

American Psycho 

American Psycho, the film that came out in 2000, portrays the parallels of a serial killer and his mental health. Wall Streeter Patrick Bateman keeps a very closed network of people who are attractive and narcissistic. Patrick himself maintains a very groomed appearance, with little to no expression of realistic human tendencies. He then goes on to become a serial killer by night. His perfectionism and attempt to control his tendencies don’t work as he has a mental illness that haunts him. Once he succumbs to those tendencies, it seems like he can’t ever stop. Like any other psych thriller, the film explores all the personality traits that make someone a psychopath but also how normal they can appear on the surface. 

The Black Swan 

Natalie Portland plays a ballerina that mirrors the conflict of good and evil. Ballet, like many sports, can lead to one’s identity being centered and all consumed by the sport. However, ballet in particular demands its performers years of rigorous perfectionism. In the film, you can see how the competition and desire to win takes over the dancer’s mind- yet it goes a step further, leading to outright mental insanity. As the main actress competes to become the black swan, she loses herself even more. 

In a crazy hallucination, she “kills” her rival with a piece of glass from the mirror and continues to perform an almost perfect and beautiful act in front of the crowd, only to realize in the end that she stabbed herself. The movie highlights the idea of mental illness within the acting, dancing, and sports industries, where performers are taught that winning is all that matters. Often, people who have done this all their lives lose themselves in the process. It truly portrays the juxtaposition of darkness behind perfectionism and that these people need mental health assistance


This movie explores the often misunderstood dissociative identity disorder. Three girls are kidnapped by a man who has 23 personalities and must try to escape before the 24th identity of the “beast” attempts to come out. The movie, like many other psych-thrillers, depicts the concept of mental illness and killers. Kevin, the main character of the film, developed the disorder as a coping mechanism for years of childhood abuse. The film goes through every one of his “personalities” including one that reverts back to his helpless childhood self. Overall, the movie does an excellent job of providing a perspective behind the disorder and how it can turn violent in a matter of seconds. 

Good Will Hunting 

The story portrays the idea of a man who is a Janitor but a true genius inside. Once he figures out an equation on the board, people start taking notice. However, he is limited by his own self-doubt. In the movie, he finally meets his soulmate who helps him open his mind. The film highlights the fact that some people need the help of others to believe in themselves. It takes a small push from people who see your talent and worth to help you persevere. Just like in real life, we must surround ourselves with people who bring us up when we’re down.

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