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9 Films About Mental Health To Watch On Netflix UK

Although far from perfect, these films may help viewers gain new perspective.

'Horse Girl' on Netflix UK
Katrina Marcinowski/Netflix
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Trigger warning: This piece contains mention of suicidal thoughts, depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, paranoia, and drug use.

In recent years, mental health has steadily come to the forefront of discussion in news and politics. However, when it comes to art, the mind and all that’s associated with it has always served as a powerful source of inspiration for creators — be it artists, authors, musicians, writers, or filmmakers. And one platform that hosts a huge amount of high-quality TV shows, movies, and documentaries about mental health is Netflix UK. Never one to shy away from tricky topics, the streaming service has some stunning content surrounding subjects such as political unrest and social injustice, but the movies and documentaries about mental health on Netflix UK are among its finest.

When handled correctly, documentaries and movies about mental health can hit all kinds of chords with audiences, and share some powerful messages. They can help people to understand how others see the world or give new meaning to feelings the viewer may be grappling with.

Netflix UK's selection when it comes to this topic is vast. Type “mental health” into the search bar and a seemingly endless amount of content will come up. For this reason, we have gathered together a short edit of some of the best movies and documentaries about mental health on Netflix UK to get your started. Although these films are in no way perfect (with a number of them having criticism lobbied against them), we believe each has something important to say about a topic that we all could take time to learn more about.

1

Horse Girl

Starring Alison Brie, Horse Girl follows Sarah, a quiet, socially isolated woman with a fondness for arts and crafts, horses, and supernatural crime. In the film, Sarah’s increasingly lucid dreams trickle into her waking life and she begins to spiral. The film is described as a “complex, thoughtful approach” to mental illness, inspired in part by star and co-writer Alison Brie’s real-life family history with paranoid schizophrenia, and depression.

Speaking to Vulture, the actor shared: “In my own personal struggles with depression, I know the feeling of being helpless, feeling powerless, feeling alone.”

Watch Horse Girl on Netflix UK here.

2

Take Your Pills

Adderall is an American drug most commonly used to treat ADHD, but one that has become increasingly misused among students and people in highly stressful work environments.

This documentary looks at why, how, and who Adderall is being used by and the potential risks involved in it. As well as speaking about the positive side of the drug too.

Watch Take Your Pills on Netflix UK here.

3

Becoming

Following former First Lady Michelle Obama on her 34-stop book tour for her memoir Becoming, the documentary dives deeper into her thoughts at the time – especially looking back at the pressure she faced being the “perfect wife to the first Black president”, as NPR writes.

Throughout the documentary, Obama remains extremely open about her mental health during the campaign trial and the constant media scrutiny she faced beside her husband and the former President. Sharing her thoughts and giving advice provides not only a major insight into Obama’s life and mind at the time, but how she dealt with the pressure.

Watch Becoming on Netflix UK here.

4

It's Kind Of A Funny Story

In It's Kind Of A Funny Story, 16-year-old Craig Zilner decides that he needs to get some help. It seems that the stress of his studies have pushed him over the edge, and have even seen him contemplate suicide. After seeing a doctor, he is checked into a mental health care facility much to the shock of his parents. And much to his almost instant regret.

Things take a strange turn when he finds out that, owing to a complication, he has to stay on the adult ward. It's there that he meets friends that change his life forever. Including Zach Galifianakis, who plays Bobby.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness ranked this as one of the best films about mental health, stating that that hospital featured in the film "is not a scary place and the patients are not portrayed as 'mad' or 'insane' — it’s a safe place where people struggling are getting help, and using humour as a relief from the serious conditions that brought them there. This Hollywood approach to a psychiatric unit may be more comical than any real-life scenario, but it helps normalise the fact that sometimes people need this level of care."

Watch It’s Kind Of A Funny Story on Netflix UK here.

5

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond

A documentary about the making of Man On The Moon, a film that saw Jim Carrey play famous comedian Andy Kaufman and go completely method in his approach. This decision affected Carey's mental health to an enormous degree and, in Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond, we see the extent to which the character took over his mind during the film's production.

Watch Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond on Netflix UK here.

6

Waves

Starring Kelvin Harris Jr., Alexa Demie, Taylor Russell, and Sterling K. Brown, Waves focuses on a middle-class African American family as they deal with tragedy, loss, grief, drug abuse, and mental health.

Struggling to maintain the support of his “domineering” father, Tyler decides to carry on wrestling despite damaging his shoulder. He quickly becomes dependent on painkillers, and he starts to spiral. One split decision results in a tragedy that changes the course of not only Tyler’s life, but the rest of his family’s.

Watch Waves on Netflix UK here.

7

Minimalism

In an age where accumulating stuff is what many people strive for, it's important to step back and take stock of what you actually want to surround yourself with. In this documentary, Joshua Fields Millburn celebrates the fact that less is more and looks at the positive effect that a more minimalist approach can have on our mental health.

Watch Minimalism on Netflix UK here.

8

Malcolm & Marie

When Malcolm & Marie first debuted on Netflix, it drew a fair amount of criticism due to it being presented as a love story. In reality the film, starring Zendaya and John David Washington, explores an emotionally abusive relationship entwined with gaslighting, power imbalance, and mental abuse.

Watch Malcom & Marie on Netflix UK here.

9

Silver Linings Playbook

Based on Matthew Quick’s 2012 novel of the same name, Silver Linings Playbook follows Patrizio “Pat” Solitano Jr. as he is released from a mental health facility after being treated for bipolar disorder.

Played by Bradley Cooper, Pat moves back in with his parents as he carries on with treatment and meets Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence, his best friend’s sister-in-law. The two strike up a relationship over their shared experiences with mental health, and the film explores their connection as well as Pat’s ongoing treatment and his goal to get back together with his ex-wife Nikki.

While the film was “accused of having an anti-psychiatry bias”, some praised Silver Linings Playbook for its depiction of “manic depressive illness or bipolar disorder”. As Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Dr Steven Schlozman told Vulture, “They did a very nice job of depicting [these illnesses] in somebody who’s quite bright, and who has limited but present insight on it.”

Watch Silver Linings Playbook here.

Contributions from Aoife Hanna, L’Oréal Blackett & Sophie McEvoy

If you have been affected by any of the issues mentioned in this piece, contact Mind by phone (0300 123 3393), email (info@mind.org.uk), or text (86463).

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