Representations of Mental Health

I’m not here to make you watch the entire video. But you can if you want to. (Also: spoiler alert)

I came across this video when my friend Ameera tweeted it and the video mentioned the movie “A Beautiful Mind”, which is based on the real life of John Nash, an Economics Nobel Prize winner. I’ve watched this movie several times. The first time I watched the movie, I didn’t know about schizophrenia. Thus, I believed as John Nash did, that the hallucinations and delusions he believed and saw were real. Only towards in the ending did I realize that they were in fact, not. But it seemed so real. I suppose that was the point.

The second time I watched it was when I was taking Psych 270 (Intro to Psychopathology), which is an intro class devoted to mental health. Since I had a better understanding of the mental health, I appreciated the movie even more. John Nash, despite having schizophrenia, could still function just fine and he managed his symptoms by learning to ignore his hallucinations. Later, he went on to win a Nobel prize. He certainly lived a normal life with schizophrenia. Yet oftentimes, we view people with mental health issues as incapable of living a high-functioning life. While that may be true for some, it certainly isn’t true in all cases. The movie also highlights a key point, that John Nash can live normally and still manage to achieve.

The point here is, that we need to learn to view people with mental health issues as they are, people, and not their mental health issues. My professor in class noted an important point, that we needed to be careful with the labels we give to people struggling with mental health. E.g. ‘person with anxiety’, ‘person with schizophrenia’. These labels matter, because saying ‘he’s schizophrenic’ means reducing him to that narrative. Doing this means that we either view them purely through that lens or worse, that they will internalize the label and succumb to the narrative. However, I’m not saying that we should discount mental health issues entirely. ‘A person with mental health issues’ just means that the mental health issue(s) are only a part of them, never fully defining them.

The video also denotes just how important movies truly are, to explain, to help us understand and to give representation of mental health issues amongst everyday people. So, if you ever felt like binge watching movies, the movies in the video are a great way to learn about mental health issues and enjoy yourselves without feeling too much guilt. #breakthestigma

sarahshu

junior studying economics + psychology. occasional writer, ambivert, and can be found in coffee shops

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