Mental Health Takes to the Screen

Mental+Health+Takes+to+the+Screen

By VALLIKA NAYAK ‘21 and KASHISH VARSHNEY ‘21

Mental health is an important component of our full body health; however, we often overlook many mental health conditions and their impacts on our bodies, social lives and relationships. It’s important that as a society, we put a heavy importance on mental health and its implications on our body and future. It’s also important to take a few mental health days to just relax, destress, and maybe watch a funny movie. From the entertainment division of The Eagle’s Eye, we present to you a few movies and shows that deal with mental health and handle this depiction well. 

  1. Sherlock (2010-2017)
    • Crime/Mystery/Comedy-Drama
    • Netflix (until the end of May)
    • Rated TV-14
    • 5/5 Eagle Feathers

This is one of the best shows I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Sherlock is a modern day rendition of the Sherlock Holmes detective series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. It stars Benedict Cumberbatch–known for his work in Doctor Strange–as the title character, and Martin Freeman–known for his work in The Hobbit trilogy and Black Panther–as Dr. John Watson of the Fifth Northumberland Fusiliers. From glow-in-the-dark bunnies named Bluebell to not wearing clothes to Buckingham Palace, this show is funny (albeit, with a good position of dry, dark humor), dramatic, a bit tragic and a lot of fun to watch. 

Sherlock depicts a wide array of mental health issues from PTSD to grief to the differences between a sociopath and psychopath–”I’m a high functioning sociopath, with your number.” – Sherlock Holmes, Sherlock. For example, the show opens with John Watson and him dealing with his PTSD as he is discharged from the British Army. It gives an accurate glimpse of a soldier returning home from war and how difficult it can be to readjust to society. This aspect of John’s life sets up his season one persona as well as setting his and Sherlock’s relationship.

Speaking of relationships, this show also does a wonderful job with relationship building, specifically the relationship between Sherlock and John Watson. Although their relationship has some rocky moments, they help each other through their issues and calm each other. As the show progresses, we see their relationship develop into something beautiful: a friendship to envy, a bromance to die for, and a romance to strive for. Although the romantic nature of John and Sherlock’s relationship is heavily debated among fans, no one can deny their codependency on each other, nor debate their trust in each other (although, their trust is tested countless times). 

Furthermore, Sherlock also deals with drug addiction, an important component when discussing mental health. Not to give any spoilers into the show, but Sherlock’s spection of drug addiction truly emphasizes the reasons why someone would turn to drugs, how this addiction affects the user’s relationships, how the user’s loved ones are affected and how the user can overcome their addiction. 

Sherlock also deals with sucide and its aftermath. Now, I won’t spoil the plot; however, the depiction of suicide and the aftermath of it is quite accurate and truly tugs at your heartstrings. Moreover, Sherlock’s depiction of sucicide also allows the audience to understand what warning signs of a suicidal person are and understand that no matter what anyone says words hurt and cannot be taken back.

Even though there are many serious notions and topics portrayed and dealt with throughout the show, there are still many lighthearted moments and plenty of subtext to analyze. I leave you off with one of my favorite quotes from Mrs. Hudson, “A nice murder. That’ll cheer you up.” ~KV

  1. X + Y (2010-2017)
    • Drama/Romance
    • Amazon Prime Video
    • Rated PG-13
    • 5/5 Eagle Feathers

Review: This is an all-around beautiful movie; it is so emotionally provocative. The main character Nathan Ellis, (played by Asa Butterfield, who is known for films like Ender’s Game and Hugo), is a child/teen prodigy in mathematics. However, at a very young age, he is diagnosed with autism. He struggles with human connection and has hair trigger mood swings over little things. His faithful teacher and mother encourage his math ability, but the stimulus of human touch and emotional connection is overwhelming for him.

Loosely based on the real teens participating in the 2007 International Mathematics Olympiad from Morgan Matthews’s documentary Beautiful Young Minds, this film delves deeper into the minds of people in different situations. In the film, Nathan’s mother struggles to deal with the everyday stress of her son’s diagnosis, and the death of her husband (the only person who could really connect with Nathan). Nathan’s teacher, Martin, suffers from multiple sclerosis, a degenerative nerve disease. This leads him to drug abuse. Nathan himself deals with the grief of losing his father and is (possibly) depressed from the bullying he faces everyday.

Though it is a story about struggle and mental (and physical) illness, this film focuses on love and learning to build relationships. It is just an overall beautifully made movie about love, loss, mental illness, and prawn balls. ~VN

  1. Inside Out (2010-2017)
    • Family/Comedy
    • Hulu/Disney+
    • Rated PG
    • 5/5 Eagle Feathers

This 2015 Disney-Pixar animation follows an eleven year old girl named Riley, who must move to a new home and school. However, this story is not about Riley, outwardly at least. It is about the journey of her emotions.

In this film the main characters, Riley’s emotions (Joy, Sadness, Disgust, Fear, and Anger), are each the embodiment of a “core” emotion, or one that substantially affects her personality. It is a beautifully crafted film based on the mental health of a child. It demonstrates both the happy and sad, and even funny moments that parents feel with their kids.

This film takes the audience on a rollercoaster of “emotions,” an adventure inside the mind and memories of young Riley. The cast includes: Amy Poehler, from Mean Girls and Parks & Recreation, Bill Hader, from SNL and most Pixar animations (like Monsters University, and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs), and Mindy Kaling, who wrote, produced, and starred in The Office. 

The story, however cute and family-friendly, does indeed demonstrate a journey inside a person’s mind. The director, Pete Docter, apparently claimed that the events of this movie are loosely based upon his own struggle with mental illness. In the film, Riley is shown to struggle with early Adjustment Disorder, which is seen through her inability to cope with her family’s move from Minnesota to California. Outwardly, Riley seems almost depressed, but inwardly, the emotion Sadness is being ignored.

The moral of the movie is to spread awareness of this condition, but also to remind people that one needs to find a balance in their emotions; ignoring the bad emotions and letting them build up will not lead to a happy, healthy life. Though this movie has a deeper meaning, and a moral, I promise it is worth a watch. So grab a boba and some Takis (maybe not that specific combination) and enjoy this (somewhat) educational movie! ~VN