International Men’s Day: How Men’s Mental Health is Portrayed in Movies Matters

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By Melanie Love Salazar
Web Content Contributor

Humans tend to be impacted by what is around them. The words they hear between their family members, the ads they see consistently, the books they read can all build a message in an individual’s mind of how the world works. This can all be a good thing when positive and helpful messages are being absorbed, but what happens when the message is flawed? When it does more harm than good, regardless of the intention behind it?

With the pressures of staying up to date with the latest trends, it can be extremely challenging to spot when you have been fed a narrative you are not sure you agree with. This can especially be seen in film.

With the celebration of International Men’s Day, it is even more so a reminder for us to be observant of how men’s mental health is being portrayed. Many people acknowledge the fact that the stigma surrounding mental health for men can lead to many of them not speaking up about their struggles. Therefore, it can be helpful to acknowledge and appreciate movies that break the mold.

The first movie worth discussing is Goodwill Hunting. Whereas movies that include characters attending therapy tend to gloss over it or present the therapist as a well-polished, organized, perfect character, but this one does not. The therapist, played by Robin Williams, has issues of his own, bringing him back to the level in which we are all at-human. It also draws attention to the fact that mental health issues can not always be easily seen. The confidence, nice clothes, or available opportunities a person has can not cure, or improve their mental health on their own.

Thus, this movie does a good job at encouraging that because you are not always going to be able to spot mental illness, treat all people with the same kindness. Additionally, it helps combat the narrative that being able to make it appear as if you have it together while you are struggling does not make one’s feelings less valid.

Another movie worth discussing is It’s Kind of a Funny Story, based on an author who struggled with mental health, Ned Vizzini. The movie involves a 16-year-old Craig Gilner, played by Keir Gilchrist, checking himself into a mental health facility after contemplating attempting suicide. He meets other characters that grow to be important while in the facility who help him to better be where he is at in his mental health struggles.

The movie discusses important topics such as seeing the good in difficult situations, how important a role people can play in another’s life and a glimpse into the complexities that come with confronting your mental health.

Although mediums that help frame our beliefs, whether right or wrong, should be responsible enough to recognize the magnitude to which their work produces, it is up to our society to be mindful of what we let infiltrate our minds. These movies deserve the attention they receive for their reminders of how we can be better when it comes to discussing the topic of mental health.

And we all have a lot to learn.

Featured Image by KTSW Multimedia

Written by: allisonschroeder13

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