May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this month remains as important as ever because of stigmas surrounding mental health. Whether it is yourself or someone you care about, mental health affects nearly everyone to some extent. It can be through your own struggles or supporting someone you care about.
While the stigmas that surrounds mental health are unfortunate, there are fortunately many forms of media which attempt to shatter these stigmas. These forms of media showcase and analyze the relationship between people and mental health, documentaries being just one of these. Listed below are five documentaries that cover a range of topics, from addiction issues, intergenerational mental health issues, to police brutality. While these documentaries are important to watch, please note that they may be triggering and harmful for some viewers.
1. Simply Complicated (2017)
Where to watch: YouTube
Issues covered: Self-harm, Bipolar disorder, addiction
Simply Complicated tracks Demi Lovato’s personal struggles pertaining to mental health and addiction while being a celebrity in the public eye. Lovato narrates this documentary, and she is candid about the missteps that she had made over her career.
2. Running from Crazy (2013)
Where to watch: Amazon Video
Issues covered: Substance abuse, mental illness, suicide
This documentary focuses on three granddaughters of Ernest Hemingway, who died by suicide, and their own struggles with mental illness and addiction. Running from Crazy made its debut at the Sundance Film Festival and first aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
3. Thin (2006)
Where to watch: YouTube
Issues covered: Eating disorders
Thin follows four young women, as they seek treatment for eating disorders at The Renfrew Center of Florida. This documentary looks at how eating disorders have impacted these women’s lives and relationships.
4. Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse (2013)
Where to watch: Amazon, Netflix
Issues covered: Schizophrenia, police brutality
This documentary examines the death of James Chasse, who was schizophrenic and killed by police officers, and a civil case which followed. Chasse’s family was awarded over $1.6 million in a civil case for his death.
5. Don’t Call Me Crazy (2013)
Where to watch: Netflix
Issues covered: Eating disorders, suicidal ideations, depression, and other mental health issues
This three-part documentary series follows British teens as they receive inpatient treatment to overcome challenges and manage their mental health. Filming of this documentary series took place over a year.