Films and Documentaries about Mental Illness

Films and documentaries about mental illness, gay and lesbian issues, mental illness and creativity, and hidden and untold histories are coming out of the metaphorical closet in 2021.  MoodSurfing has received notice of several important new contributions in the film and mental illness field, and we are looking forward to more in the future.

Mysteries of Mental Illness

The Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) has a four-part documentary called Mysteries of Mental Illness, exploring “the story of mental illness in science and society, tracing the evolution of this complex topic from its earliest days to present times. [It] examines the dramatic attempts across generations to unravel the mysteries of mental illness and give voice to contemporary Americans across a spectrum of experiences.”

The site also includes short video documentaries, “events” and an engagement page where everyone is encouraged to send in their own video or voice recording answering the question “what’s your normal?”

Americans are more likely to need services from psychiatry than from any other medical specialty, yet the diagnosis of a mental illness remains widely stigmatized in this country. To break down these misconceptions, we are encouraging those who face mental health challenges to tell your story


Cured is another documentary that looks, not at mental illness, but at the lack thereof.  Until 1973, homosexuality was classified as a mental illness by the American Psychiatric Association, and this film tells the story of the activists who fought to get that designation changed.  Cured is scheduled to be broadcast on PBS in October, 2021, so hopefully it will reach a wide audience.

Art With Impact

For more films, the non-profit Art with Impact provides a veritable feast of films about “the intersection of art and mental health”.  Including a page where anyone can submit a film about their own struggles with stigma and health, Art with Impact promises to be an ongoing growth area in the field.

2021 has a special focus on “Voices with Impact” highlighting the experiences of Black and immigrant communities and individuals throughout the country.  The whole site has l lot to explore and view.

Please let us know about any films or documentaries you encounter that you’d like to recommend.

– Nancy

For more:

The Bandaged Place

Touched with Fire

Creativity and Mental Illness