In Canada today, January 25th, is Bell Let’s Talk Day, an opportunity to talk about mental health stigma. As a psychiatrist, mental health stigma is something I encounter on a daily basis. It affects my patients in many different ways and is a social factor that, if reduced, will lead to many more people getting the help they need.
The relationship of popular media, like film and television, to mental health stigma is complex. Films can perpetuate mental health stigma: the most common example being the horror or suspense film trope of the psychotic killer. In fact, people suffering from the prototypical psychotic disorder, schizophrenia, are vastly more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators.
On the other hand, accurate depictions of mental distress in film can help engender empathy for those suffering from mental illness, which is a good first step in reducing stigma.
With that in mind, I thought that over the next few days I would create posts about some of the films I’ve seen that portray individuals with mental health issues, and comment on them. Some may be overall positive, some overall negative, and many are in between. I will link to the review on my blog if it is one that I have reviewed in the last few years. If you have suggestions for movies that you think are interesting portrayals of mental illness, please comment.