40 Top Movies About Mental Illness

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Here is a list of the 40 top movies about mental illness that portray various aspects of mental health, from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. These movies remind us that mental health is an important and universal topic that deserves more attention, awareness, and compassion.

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In this article, we’re covering the difficult topic of mental health disorders.

Mental illness and mental health disorders are complex and often misunderstood topics that affect millions of people around the world.

However, mental illness can also be a source of inspiration, insight, and empathy for filmmakers and audiences alike. Movies have a powerful way of portraying the complexities of the human mind, shedding light on the experiences of individuals dealing with various mental health challenges.

We have put together a list of the 40 top movies about mental illness that portray various aspects of mental health, from depression and anxiety to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

These movies are not only entertaining and captivating, but also educational and enlightening, as they shed light on the struggles, challenges, and triumphs of people living with mental health issues.

All of these movies offer a unique perspective on the intricacies of mental health.

We cover all genres including comedy, drama, documentary and thrillers in this list of the 40 best movies about mental illness and mental health disorders.

What information is provided about each movie about mental illness in this selection?

  • The movie title and release year of the movie
  • The YouTube Trailer
  • Director
  • A list of actors in the movie
  • Genre
  • The MPAA rating
  • Link to the movie in IMDb – For movie reviews, where to stream, ratings, trailers and lots more.
  • A movie summary

40 Movies About Mental Illness: Exploring Mental Health Disorders in Film

1. Murder in the First (1995)

In “Murder in the First,” mental illness intertwines with a gripping courtroom drama. This film delves into the psychological effects of solitary confinement and the toll it takes on an inmate’s mental health.

2. Girl, Interrupted (1999)

Set in a psychiatric hospital, “Girl, Interrupted” unravels the complexities of mental health through the eyes of a young woman diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. It delves into the challenges of navigating through mental health institutions and the diverse experiences within them.

3. I Am Sam (2001)

  • Director: Jessie Nelson
  • Actors: Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer, Dakota Fanning
  • Genre: Drama
  • Rating: PG-13
  • IMDb: ‘I Am Sam’ on IMDb

“I Am Sam” explores intellectual disabilities and parenting. The film follows the story of a mentally challenged man fighting for custody of his daughter, shedding light on societal perceptions of mental capabilities.

4. What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

This film navigates family dynamics and responsibilities when a young man grapples with his mentally challenged brother and a complex family dynamic. It touches on the strains of caregiving and the impact on personal growth.

5. Sybil (1976)

  • Director: Daniel Petrie
  • Actors: Sally Field, Joanne Woodward, Brad Davis
  • Genre: Biography, Drama
  • Rating: TV-PG
  • IMDb: ‘Sybil’ on IMDb

“Sybil” is a gripping portrayal of a woman living with dissociative identity disorder. This movie dives deep into the challenges and traumas that lead to the development of multiple personalities, offering a poignant glimpse into the world of mental health disorders.

6. Psycho (1960)

  • Director: Alfred Hitchcock
  • Actors: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles
  • Genre: Horror, Mystery, Thriller
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘Psycho’ on IMDb

Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” is a classic that unravels the complexities of mental illness through its iconic character, Norman Bates. The film brilliantly explores the blurred lines between sanity and psychosis, leaving a haunting impression on mental health portrayal in cinema.

7. Fight Club (1999)

  • Director: David Fincher
  • Actors: Brad Pitt, Edward Norton, Helena Bonham Carter
  • Genre: Drama
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘Fight Club’ on IMDb

“Fight Club” challenges societal norms and masculinity while delving into the protagonist’s dissociative identity disorder. This movie dives deep into the disintegration of mental stability amidst chaos, revealing the darker sides of the human psyche.

8. Memento (2000)

  • Director: Christopher Nolan
  • Actors: Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss, Joe Pantoliano
  • Genre: Mystery, Thriller
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘Memento’ on IMDb

“Memento” ingeniously portrays short term memory loss, following a man on a quest for vengeance despite his inability to retain new memories. The film cleverly captures the challenges and frustrations of living with a mental condition that affects daily life.

9. Requiem for a Dream (2000)

“Requiem for a Dream” portrays addiction’s harrowing impact on mental health, depicting the deteriorating lives of individuals consumed by substance abuse. The film vividly showcases the psychological toll and despair resulting from addiction.

10. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

“Lars and the Real Girl” takes a unique approach, exploring a man’s coping mechanism for his mental health struggles by forming a relationship with a lifelike doll. It’s a heartwarming yet poignant tale that touches on loneliness and unconventional ways to address mental health challenges.

11. Taxi Driver (1976)

  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Actors: Robert De Niro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd
  • Genre: Crime, Drama
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘Taxi Driver’ on IMDb

“Taxi Driver” navigates the deteriorating mental state of its protagonist, exploring isolation and the descent into psychosis. It vividly portrays the protagonist’s struggles with loneliness and societal alienation.

12. American Psycho (2000)

“American Psycho” delves into the mind of a psychopathic Wall Street executive. This film confronts the blurred boundaries between sanity and madness, questioning the veneer of normalcy in a character struggling with severe mental instability.

13. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

“A Beautiful Mind” narrates the life of Nobel Laureate John Nash, depicting his journey with schizophrenia. The film sensitively portrays the challenges of living with a severe mental disorder while highlighting Nash’s remarkable achievements.

14. Love Actually (2003)

  • Director: Richard Curtis
  • Actors: Hugh Grant, Emma Thompson, Liam Neeson
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘Love Actually’ on IMDb

“Love Actually” subtly touches on mental health, particularly the struggles of a character dealing with grief. Amidst its romantic storylines, the film portrays the complexities of human emotions and the impact of loss on mental well being.

15. The Fisher King (1991)

  • Director: Terry Gilliam
  • Actors: Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Mercedes Ruehl
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘The Fisher King’ on IMDb

“The Fisher King” intertwines mental health themes with a modern day quest for redemption. The film explores the aftermath of trauma and the healing power of connection, delving into the intricacies of coping with emotional scars.

16. Antichrist (2009)

  • Director: Lars von Trier
  • Actors: Willem Dafoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg
  • Genre: Drama, Horror
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • IMDb: ‘Antichrist’ on IMDb

“Antichrist” delves into grief and mental anguish after a couple faces a tragic loss. The film portrays the raw and disturbing aspects of grief that manifest in a nightmarish exploration of the human psyche.

17. Melancholia (2011)

  • Director: Lars von Trier
  • Actors: Kirsten Dunst, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Alexander Skarsgård
  • Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘Melancholia’ on IMDb

“Melancholia” beautifully captures depression and impending doom through a sci-fi lens. The film artfully weaves the mental state of its characters with an impending cosmic catastrophe, exploring the emotional landscape of despair.

18. What Dreams May Come (1998)

  • Director: Vincent Ward
  • Actors: Robin Williams, Cuba Gooding Jr., Annabella Sciorra
  • Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance
  • Rating: PG-13
  • IMDb: ‘What Dreams May Come’ on IMDb

“What Dreams May Come” ventures into the afterlife and explores themes of loss, grief, and the human spirit. It sensitively portrays the impact of mental anguish on relationships and the journey to find solace in the face of tragedy.

19. Matchstick Men (2003)

  • Director: Ridley Scott
  • Actors: Nicolas Cage, Alison Lohman, Sam Rockwell
  • Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
  • Rating: PG-13
  • IMDb: ‘Matchstick Men’ on IMDb

“Matchstick Men” follows a con artist with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) navigating his life and criminal activities. The film provides insight into the challenges of living with OCD while intertwining it with a compelling storyline.

20. The Aviator (2004)

  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Cate Blanchett, Kate Beckinsale
  • Genre: Biography, Drama
  • Rating: PG-13
  • IMDb: ‘The Aviator’ on IMDb

“The Aviator” delves into the life of Howard Hughes, depicting his struggles with obsessive compulsive disorder and its impact on his career and personal life. The film offers a glimpse into the complexities of mental health within the context of a larger than life, real life figure.

21. The Voices (2014)

  • Director: Marjane Satrapi
  • Actors: Ryan Reynolds, Gemma Arterton, Anna Kendrick
  • Genre: Comedy, Crime, Horror
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘The Voices’ on IMDb

“The Voices” takes a darkly comedic approach to mental illness, following a man with schizophrenia who struggles with his reality. The film intricately weaves between humor and chilling moments, offering an unsettling portrayal of mental health issues.

22. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is a powerful exploration of mental health within a psychiatric institution. The film challenges authority and stigma surrounding mental illness, showcasing the human spirit’s resilience amidst institutionalization.

23. Primal Fear (1996)

  • Director: Gregory Hoblit
  • Actors: Richard Gere, Edward Norton, Laura Linney
  • Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘Primal Fear’ on IMDb

“Primal Fear” intertwines legal drama with a character struggling with dissociative identity disorder. The film cleverly navigates the complexities of perception and truth within the context of mental illness and the justice system.

24. The Virgin Suicides (1999)

“The Virgin Suicides” delicately explores themes of depression and suicide among teenage girls. The film offers a poignant yet sensitive portrayal of the impact of mental health struggles on individuals and their families.

25. Dead Poets Society (1989)

“Dead Poets Society” indirectly touches on mental health by examining the pressures and expectations imposed on young minds. It explores the toll of conforming to societal standards and the importance of embracing individuality and self expression.

26. Adam (2009)

  • Director: Max Mayer
  • Actors: Hugh Dancy, Rose Byrne, Peter Gallagher
  • Genre: Drama, Romance
  • Rating: PG-13
  • IMDb: ‘Adam’ on IMDb

“Adam” is a heartfelt story of a man with Asperger’s syndrome navigating life and love. The film beautifully portrays the challenges and triumphs of relationships when one partner experiences the world through a different lens.

27. Awakenings (1990)

  • Director: Penny Marshall
  • Actors: Robin Williams, Robert De Niro, Julie Kavner
  • Genre: Biography, Drama
  • Rating: PG-13
  • IMDb: ‘Awakenings’ on IMDb

“Awakenings” chronicles the remarkable true story of a doctor’s efforts to bring catatonic patients back to life. It highlights the resilience and hope found amidst severe mental health conditions, showcasing the human spirit’s capacity for revival.

28. Forrest Gump (1994)

  • Director: Robert Zemeckis
  • Actors: Tom Hanks, Robin Wright, Gary Sinise
  • Genre: Drama, Romance
  • Rating: PG-13
  • IMDb: ‘Forrest Gump’ on IMDb

“Forrest Gump” indirectly addresses mental health through its titular character, Forrest, who navigates life with a unique perspective. The film touches on the challenges of individuals perceived as different by society and their resilience in the face of adversity.

29. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

“Silver Linings Playbook” intricately weaves mental health challenges into a romantic comedy, exploring bipolar disorder and its impact on relationships. The film delicately balances humor and raw emotion while portraying the journey toward healing and acceptance.

30. Bipolarized (2014)

“Bipolarized” is a documentary that dives into the experiences of individuals living with bipolar disorder. It sheds light on the complexities of the condition, the challenges of diagnosis, and the societal perceptions surrounding mental health.

31. Black Swan (2010)

  • Director: Darren Aronofsky
  • Actors: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis, Vincent Cassel
  • Genre: Drama, Thriller
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘Black Swan’ on IMDb

“Black Swan” delves into the psychological unraveling of a ballet dancer, blurring the lines between reality and delusion. The film offers a haunting portrayal of the pressures and darkness that come with the pursuit of perfection in the arts.

32. Shutter Island (2010)

  • Director: Martin Scorsese
  • Actors: Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, Mark Ruffalo
  • Genre: Mystery, Thriller
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘Shutter Island’ on IMDb

“Shutter Island” immerses viewers in a psychological thriller set in a mental institution. The film explores the depths of the human mind and the complexities of perception, unraveling a gripping mystery intertwined with mental health themes.

33. As Good as It Gets (1997)

“As Good as It Gets” follows an obsessive compulsive and misanthropic novelist as he forms unexpected bonds. The film sensitively portrays mental health challenges amidst relationships, offering moments of humor and heartwarming connection.

34. Prozac Nation (2001)

  • Director: Erik Skjoldbjærg
  • Actors: Christina Ricci, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Jessica Lange
  • Genre: Drama
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘Prozac Nation’ on IMDb

“Prozac Nation” adapts Elizabeth Wurtzel’s memoir, chronicling her struggles with depression and the effects of antidepressants. The film delves into the complexities of mental health treatment and the quest for stability amidst inner turmoil.

35. Misery (1990)

  • Director: Rob Reiner
  • Actors: James Caan, Kathy Bates, Richard Farnsworth
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘Misery’ on IMDb

“Misery” showcases a chilling tale of an author held captive by a fan with severe psychological issues. The film explores the terrifying consequences of obsession and the manipulation of mental health vulnerabilities.

36. Benny & Joon (1993)

  • Director: Jeremiah S. Chechik
  • Actors: Johnny Depp, Mary Stuart Masterson, Aidan Quinn
  • Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
  • Rating: PG
  • IMDb: ‘Benny & Joon’ on IMDb

“Benny & Joon” offers a whimsical romance between a quirky young woman with mental health challenges and an eccentric man. The film delicately portrays their unique relationship while shedding light on the realities of living with mental illness.

37. The Number 23 (2007)

  • Director: Joel Schumacher
  • Actors: Jim Carrey, Virginia Madsen, Logan Lerman
  • Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘The Number 23’ on IMDb

“The Number 23” revolves around a man obsessed with a book that seems to mirror his life. The film delves into the dark realms of obsession and paranoia, exploring the impact of one’s psyche fixating on patterns and coincidences.

38. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)

“We Need to Talk About Kevin” delves into the aftermath of a school massacre perpetrated by a troubled teenager. The film explores the complexities of parenthood, culpability, and the impact of mental illness on families.

39. The Machinist (2004)

  • Director: Brad Anderson
  • Actors: Christian Bale, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Aitana Sánchez-Gijón
  • Genre: Drama, Thriller
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘The Machinist’ on IMDb

“The Machinist” follows an insomniac’s descent into psychological turmoil, blurring reality and hallucinations. The film vividly portrays the effects of severe sleep deprivation on mental health, unraveling a haunting narrative.

40. Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

  • Director: Adrian Lyne
  • Actors: Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello
  • Genre: Drama, Horror, Mystery
  • Rating: R
  • IMDb: ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ on IMDb

“Jacob’s Ladder” delves into the surreal experiences of a Vietnam War veteran plagued by nightmarish visions. The film blends horror with psychological drama, exploring trauma’s impact on the mind and the blurred lines between reality and delusion.


We hope you found something to add to your must watch list from our list of the 40 best movies about mental illness and mental health disorders.

These movies are not only entertaining and captivating, but also educational and enlightening, as they shed light on the struggles, challenges, and triumphs of people living with mental health issues.

These movies also remind us that mental health is an important and universal topic that deserves more attention, awareness, and compassion.

Thank you for reading and happy watching! We hope you will visit us again soon.

Here is a link for some tools and resources for those struggling with their mental health.

Free Movie Checklist

Click on the button below to get your FREE “Movies About Mental Illness” checklist that you can print or check off directly on your device!

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So, what are your thoughts on the movies included in this list? What additional movies would you have included? What movies would you have left off?

We encourage all comments and discussion!

Everyone is welcome!


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