Films & Documentaries

  • A Beautiful Mind (2001): This movie, based on a true story, highlights the life of John Forbes Nash, Jr. (Russel Crow), a mathematical savant who lived with schizophrenia. The movie beautifully captures the challenges John faced throughout his life, including paranoia and delusions that altered his promising career and deeply affected his life.
  • Boy Interrupted (2009): Academy Award–winning filmmaker Dana Perry explores the suicide of her fifteen-year-old son in a compelling documentary about mental illness, the family’s history of suicide, and the ultimately futile struggle to keep her son from taking his life.
  • Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 (2013): A short documentary by Ellen Goosenberg Kent about counselors who provide support, guidance and hope to despondent servicemen dealing with emotional, physical and financial troubles.
  • Here One Day (2012): Kathy Leichter searches for answers in this deeply moving film about her mother’s suicide and Leichter’s coming to terms with who her mother was, her mental illness, and the impact of her suicide on her extended family.
  • Infinitely Polar Bear (2015): Cam (Mark Ruffalo), a father with bipolar disorder, becomes the sole caregiver for his two daughters while his wife (Zoe Saldana) goes away to graduate school. Cam faces many challenges that make it difficult for him to take care of his daughters. However, despite the severity of his condition (and some unique parenting methods that accompany it), Cam learns that he is a good father who cares deeply for his family.
  • Kids in Crisis: You’re Not Alone Documentary (2019): The documentary follows four young people from Wisconsin navigating mental health challenges. They’ve endured assault, bullying, incarceration, and discrimination. Some thought about suicide. But through the pain, they found support from family, friends, and strangers. They found the strength within and are sharing their stories to let others know they’re not alone and that healing is possible.
  • Inside Out (2015): This 3D computed-animated children’s movie personifies the different emotions inside a young girl’s mind. Characters Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust try to help Riley through her family’s move to San Francisco. The emotions learn to work together to help Riley process the turmoil of adjusting to her new life.
  • It’s Kind of Funny Story (2010): You wouldn’t think a movie set in a mental health hospital could be a comedy. However, this well-crafted film tells the story of 16-year-old Craig (Keir Gilchrist) who checks himself into a psychiatric ward because of his depression and suicidal ideation. He ends up staying in the adult unit because the youth wing is under renovation. The hospital 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 humor as a relief from the serious conditions that brought them there.
  • Matchstick Men (2003): Roy (Nicolas Cage) is a con artist working with his protégé to steal a lot of money. While he may be confident in his ability to steal from the rich, he struggles in other aspects of his life. His debilitating Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), agoraphobia and panic attacks make it difficult for him to leave his apartment or even open a door. When he discovers he has a 14-year-old daughter, he’s forced to evaluate his career choices and isolated lifestyle. Matchstick Men is an honest depiction of the rituals and behaviors of someone living with OCD.
  • Silver Linings Playbook (2012): After a stay in a mental health hospital, Pat Solatano (Bradley Cooper) is forced to move back in with his parents. His previously untreated symptoms of bipolar disorder caused him to lose both his wife and job, and he is determined to get his wife back. In his efforts, Pat meets Tiffany (Jennifer Lawrence), who offers to help him in exchange for Pat being her ballroom dance partner. Silver Linings Playbook represents the range of emotion that often occurs with bipolar disorder in a real and riveting way.
  • Suicide the Ripple Effect (2018): A feature-length documentary film and movement, focusing on the devastating effects of suicide and the tremendous positive ripple effects of advocacy, inspiration and hope that are helping millions heal & stay alive. Seen by over 500,000 people already, across 7 countries, this film is having a global impact.
  • The Bridge (2006): A British-American documentary by Eric Steel spanning one year of filming at the famed San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge in 2004. The film captured a number of suicides, and featured interviews with family and friends of some of the identified people who had thrown themselves from the bridge that year. The film was inspired by a 2003 article titled "Jumpers," written by Tad Friend for The New Yorker
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012): Socially awkward Charlie (Logan Lerman) starts high school isolated and anxious. Luckily, he becomes friends with a group of charismatic seniors, including Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller). His friends bring joy to his life, but his inner turmoil reaches a high when they prepare to leave for college. As the film goes on, we learn more about Charlie’s mental health journey—from his stay in a psychiatric hospital to the details of a childhood trauma. This coming-of-age movie does an exemplary job of showing the highs and lows of growing up with mental illness.
  • The S Word Documentary (2017): Suicide attempt survivor, Dese’Rae Stage is on a mission to find fellow survivors and document their stories of unguarded courage, insight and humor. From the creative team behind the award-winning OF TWO MINDS comes a film that tackles one of the most unfathomable and cloistered issues of our time… Suicide.
  • The Skeleton Twins (2014): The opening scene of Skeleton Twins shows the film’s main characters, Milo (Bill Hader) and Maggie (Kristen Wiig), both attempting suicide. Milo’s attempt lands him in the hospital, which reunites the brother and sister after 10 years of estrangement. Both characters express their depression in candid and humorous ways as they learn to accept each other and themselves.
  • Transforming Loss: A Documentary (2013): How does one cope with profound loss and find hope? Transforming Loss follows six families through the grief process. Incredibly, these individuals not only have survived profound loss, but through love, faith and perseverance are transforming. A grief survivor herself, Burdick began her journey in understanding grief and loss when, at age 31, with two small children, her husband of 10 years was killed in a scuba diving accident. She found herself alone, entirely overwhelmed and unprepared for what her life, and their lives, had suddenly become. This film is Judith's transformation.
  • Welcome to Me (2015): Alice (Kristen Wiig) has just decided to go off her medications for Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) when she wins the lottery. She impulsively buys her own talk show with the money, in which she shares her opinions with the world. Although portrayed in a humorous way, Alice shows many of the traits of BPD, including mood swings and unstable relationships. As her behavior pushes away the people closest to her—including her therapist—she starts to take her mental health condition more seriously and works to keep her loved ones in her life. In the process, she falsifies the myth that a person with BPD is selfish.

Sources: AFSP, NAMI, Other

If you’d like to recommend another film for this list, please email