May is Mental Health Awareness Month! To help spread awareness, I have put together a short list of movies and audiobooks which discuss or depict mental health in a variety of ways. Visit the official Mental Health Awareness Month website at, www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may, to get more information!
A Beautiful Mind – Dramatic biography of John Nash, a mathematical genius, who made an astonishing discovery early in his career and stood on the brink of international acclaim. But the handsome and arrogant Nash soon found himself on a painful and harrowing journey of self-discovery. After many years of struggle, he eventually triumphed over his schizophrenia, and finally, late in life, received the Nobel Prize. Based on the novel of the same name by Sylvia Nasar.
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 – Today, more military members are lost to suicide than on the battlefield. After serving their country overseas, many veterans in their darkest moments turn to the unique services of the Veterans Crisis Line to help with traumas like post-traumatic stress, depression, homelessness and drug dependence. The 40-minute documentary is an intimate look at the vital work of several responders who provide life-saving intervention and desperately needed referrals through the 24-hour Veterans Crisis Line.
Girl, Interrupted – The fascinating true story of a young woman’s life-altering stay at a famous psychiatric hospital in the late 1960’s. Based on the novel of the same name by Susanna Kaysen.
Melancholia – In this beautifully filmed movie about the end of the world, Justine and Michael are celebrating their marriage at a sumptuous party in the home of her sister Claire, and brother-in-law John. A planet called Melancholia is heading directly towards Earth and threatening to collide. Meanwhile, tensions are mounting and relationships are fraying as the family deals with their fears.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Tells the adventures of a free-spirited mental ward inmate whose rebelliousness pits him against the repressive head nurse, and whose charm wins him the loyalty of his fellow inmates. Based on the original novel by Ken Kesey.
Prozac Nation – Lizzie is a prize-winning student heading off to Harvard for her freshman year, where she intends to study journalism and launch a career as a rock music critic. However, Lizzie’s dysfunctional family situation includes an errant father and a neurotic, bitterly hypercritical mother who has led Lizzie to a struggle with depression. When her all-night, drug-fueled writing binges and emotional instability alienate her roommate and best friend, Ruby, as well as both her boyfriends, Lizzie seeks psychiatric counseling from Dr. Diana Sterling, who prescribes the wonder drug Prozac. Despite success as a writer and some mellowing out thanks to her medication, Lizzie begins to feel that the pills are running her life and faces some tough choices about her future. Based on the novel of the same name by Elizabeth Wurtzel.
Silver Linings Playbook – Based on the bestselling novel of the same name by Matthew Quick, the riotous and poignant story of how a man who has lost everything, his house, his job, his wife, reconnects with himself and creates his own silver linings from the bonds he forms with his family and friends.
All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – Told in alternating voices, when Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school– both teetering on the edge– it’s the beginning of an unlikely relationship, a journey to discover the “natural wonders” of the state of Indiana, and two teens’ desperate desire to heal and save one another.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath – This extraordinary work–echoing Plath’s own experiences as a rising writer/editor in the early 1950s–chronicles the nervous breakdown of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, successful, but slowly going under, and maybe for the last time.
The Best Awful by Carrie Fisher – Reeling from her divorce with Leland, who left her for another man, Suzanne Vale isn’t sure that she’s the best mom for her young daughter, Honey. The 3-year-old has been a mainstay in Suzanne’s life, that and the prescription drugs she takes to control her bipolar disorder. When Suzanne goes off her medication, her life spins crazily out of control, she finds herself roaming the streets of Tijuana with Tony the tattoo artist on a quest for Oxycontin…
Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan – Her medical record, from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory, showed psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four-old. Susannah’s astonishing memoir chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving her life.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson – Jenny Lawson explores her lifelong battle with mental illness.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky – Most people think 15-year-old Charlie is a freak. The only friend he had killed himself, forcing him to face high school alone. But then seniors Patrick and his beautiful stepsister Sam take Charlie under their wings and introduce him to their eclectic, open-minded, hard-partying friends. It is from these older kids that Charlie learns to live and love, until a repressed secret from his past threatens to destroy his newfound happiness. The Perks of Being a Wallflower was made into a film, starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson.
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher – When high school student Clay Jenkins receives a box in the mail containing thirteen cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah, who committed suicide, he spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah’s voice recounting the events leading up to her death.