top of page
  • Isara Moriya

Mindfull X Shield - Depictions of Mental Health On Screen

The Oscars swept the world again with its grand awards ceremony and movies. Speaking of movies, let us reflect on depictions of mental health in film. Just how accurate are mental illnesses depicted, and what effects do these depictions bring to the rest of society? 


Films can play a significant role in raising awareness about mental health issues and fostering empathy and understanding within the community. Films can contribute positively to mental health awareness in various ways:

1. Destigmatization: Films that depict mental health issues sensitively and authentically can help reduce the stigma surrounding these conditions. By humanizing characters with mental illness and portraying their struggles with empathy and nuance, films can challenge stereotypes and misconceptions.

2. Education: Movies can serve as a valuable educational tool, providing audiences with insights into the experiences of individuals living with mental health conditions. Well-researched and accurate portrayals can help viewers gain a better understanding of different disorders, their symptoms, and their impact on individuals and their families.

3. Empowerment: Films that feature characters overcoming mental health challenges or seeking treatment can inspire hope and empowerment among viewers facing similar struggles. Seeing characters navigate their mental health journey and find resilience and strength can be uplifting and motivating for those dealing with their mental health issues.

4. Start conversations: Movies can spark important conversations about mental health within families, communities, and society at large. After watching a film that addresses mental health themes, viewers may feel more comfortable discussing these topics openly and seeking support when needed.

5. Advocacy and activism: Films can catalyze advocacy and activism around mental health issues. By shedding light on the challenges faced by individuals with mental illness and advocating for better access to treatment and support services, films can contribute to broader efforts to improve mental health care and policy.

6. Representation: Representation matters, and films that feature diverse characters with mental health conditions help validate the experiences of those who may feel marginalized or underrepresented. Seeing themselves reflected on screen can provide validation and a sense of belonging for individuals within the mental health community.

7. Empathetic and authentic portrayals: Some films offer empathetic and authentic portrayals of mental health issues. These films may draw on the experiences of individuals living with mental illness or consult with mental health professionals to ensure accuracy and sensitivity.

Overall, films have the power to raise awareness, promote understanding, and foster empathy when it comes to mental health issues. By telling authentic and compelling stories, filmmakers can contribute positively to mental health awareness and advocacy efforts.


However, depictions of mental health in film vary widely in terms of accuracy and representation. Films may oversimplify or glorify mental illnesses, which can lead to misunderstandings. Here are more ways that films may misrepresent mental health conditions:  

1. Stereotypes and stigma: Many films rely on stereotypes of mental illness, portraying individuals with conditions like schizophrenia or bipolar disorder as violent or unstable. This can contribute to stigma and misunderstanding in society.

2. Romanticizing or glamorizing: Some movies romanticize mental illness, portraying characters as tortured geniuses or misunderstood souls. While these depictions may be compelling cinematically, they often oversimplify complex issues and can trivialize the real struggles of those with mental health conditions.

3. Inaccuracies in symptoms: Films sometimes inaccurately depict the symptoms and experiences of mental illness. This can lead to misconceptions about what certain conditions entail and how they affect individuals in their daily lives.

4. Treatment and recovery: Not all films accurately depict the process of seeking treatment and recovery for mental health conditions. Some may show unrealistic or overly simplistic portrayals of therapy or medication, while others may omit these aspects entirely.

It's important to critically approach depictions of mental health in film and consider the context in which they are presented. While some films may provide valuable insights and foster empathy, others may perpetuate harmful stereotypes and misconceptions. Ultimately, a diverse range of voices and perspectives is needed to accurately represent the complexity of mental health experiences in cinema.

Writer: Isara Moriya




bottom of page