If you are a person living with a mental health disorder, you may find it difficult to clearly explain what you are going through and the impact on your day-to-day life. And if you are a person who loves someone who is dealing with a mental health disorder, you may well struggle to understand what is happening and how to help. In some cases it can be very difficult indeed to have a productive conversation that helps both parties understand one another better and discover ways to move forward.
When that is the case, one possible way to bridge the gap is via documentaries that focus on questions related to mental health. Hearing the story of someone else’s struggles and victories can provide new insights and new ways of talking about mental health that can help both the person with the disorder and those who love them come to a better understanding of one another.
With that goal in mind, we offer a few suggestions for viewing. Before we do, we want to note that some of these documentaries—and others like them—may be difficult to watch or even be triggering to those dealing with a mental health disorder. We will borrow a line from TV and streaming services:
Viewer discretion is advised.
Nadiya Hussain: Anxiety and Me
If you are a fan of competitive cooking and baking shows, you may recognize Nadiya Hussain as a winner of “The Great British Bake Off” or as the host of “Nadiya Bakes.” Given her skills and her popularity, you might think that everything about her life is going just fine. But the reality is that Hussain struggles with panic attacks. In this documentary, she reveals how intense anxiety impacts her life and shares her hopes of finding and addressing the cause of her anxiety via treatment.
OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie
As the title implies, there is a lot going on in the life of Bud Clayman when it comes to mental health challenges. In this somewhat meta movie, Clayman makes a film about making a film about his life. Along the way, he reveals the ways in which obsessive compulsive disorder and Asperger’s syndrome have made it difficult to become a filmmaker. It’s a story about the reality of challenges and the creativity and bravery it can take to address those challenges head on.
The Wounds We Cannot See
This documentary delves deeply into the life of U.S. Navy Airman Nancy Ross, whose difficult military service (as well as problematic childhood), led to depression, addiction, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While we would not necessarily recommend that those who struggle with PTSD view this documentary because it might prove triggering for some, it can provide context and clarity for those who are attempting to understand what a loved one is going through.
Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated
Demi Lovato went from Disney Channel star to cautionary tale as drug use and mental health issues seemed to overwhelm her and her talent. In this documentary, the singer and actor delves deeply into her personal story with courage and honesty. This story might help bridge a generation gap when it comes to thinking about mental health issues among younger people. It is also a good reminder that fame and fortune do not make anyone immune from mental health (or substance use) disorders.
Of Two Minds
All too often, people are glib about bipolar disorder, using it as an inaccurate description of a person’s surprising behavior or as the punchline of a joke. But for those living with bipolar disorder—and for those who love them—life can be devastatingly difficult. This documentary introduces you to a number of people whose lives have been shaped by bipolar disorder. No punches are pulled—which means there is quite a bit of time devoted to suicidal impulses related to the disorder—and the stories can be both heartrending and inspiring.
You Can Rewrite Your Own Story with Help from Johnstown Heights
Whether you are struggling with depression, anxiety, a trauma-based disorder, or another sort of mental health challenge, it can sometimes seem as though nothing will ever improve and as if no one can help. But that is not the case.
At Johnstown Heights Behavioral Health in Colorado, we have the expertise and experience necessary to create a personalized treatment plan that will address your specific needs and help you build up your mental health and then maintain those gains. When you are ready to start rewriting your personal story, we are ready to help you do so.