the girl is sleeping while listening to music

Documentaries are having their moment! Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t, but documentaries are SUPER in right now. Why? They’re a great way to be informed on different issues in society, including mental health!

It is estimated that one in five people in the U.S. suffer from mental illness. That’s 20% of the population! Yet, despite how common it is, there is still a LOT of shame 

surrounding mental illness. 

This is where documentaries about mental illness come into play. They are SUPER important for reducing the cultural stigma and discrimination that comes with these issues. If you’ve listened to our best mental health podcasts, you know what we’re talking about! This stigma MUST be addressed.

That’s why we’re sharing a round-up of documentaries that cover some of these crucial mental health topics. Here are our current faves: 

Mental Health Documentaries

10 Best Mental Health Documentaries

Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness

This docuseries, presented by Ken Burns, tells the stories of more than 20 young people (ages 11-27) who struggle with mental health challenges. It provides a look into their lives, as well as the perspectives of their parents, teachers, friends, and healthcare providers. This documentary offers a contrast to the discrimination and stigma surrounding mental illness to advance a shift in the public perception of mental health issues.

Want to learn more about how mental health affects young people? Listen to this episode of Twenty Whatever to hear more about twenty-somethings’ coping skills, mental health journeys, and struggles with anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. 

Nadiya: Anxiety and Me

Nadiya Hussain is known for winning 2015’s season of The Great British Bake Off with her mad cooking skills, but behind the scenes, she struggles with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks. She’s been struggling with mental health issues since childhood, but kept it a secret for decades. In this documentary, Nadiya’s goal is to find out the cause of her anxiety, explore different treatments, and attend therapy, in order to manage her anxiety. 

Looking for solutions to your anxiety? Not Skinny But Not Fat has a great episode on Healing Anxiety w/ The Anxiety Healer. 

OC87: The Obsessive Compulsive, Major Depression, Bipolar, Asperger’s Movie

In this documentary, director Bud Clayman presents his struggle with OCD and Asperger’s Syndrome and how they interrupted his filmmaking career. This documentary provides an intimate account of the mental health issues Bud Clayman faced, and how they have affected his interpersonal relationships, work life, and sense of wellbeing. The documentary also includes interviews with mental health professionals who share insight into the disorders and their treatment options. 

If you enjoy stories of triumph after setbacks like this one, you’ll probably enjoy the podcast Good Morning, Monster as well. It’s a series based on the book Good Morning, Monster by Catherine Gildiner and details five heroic stories of emotional recovery. Start here with episode one!

Mental Health Documentaries list

Dave Harewood: Psychosis and Me

David “Dave” Harewood is an award-winning British actor. At 23, he suffered a mental breakdown and was successfully treated with antipsychotic medication. Thirty years later, he made the documentary “Psychosis and Me,” which explores the impact of mental illness and current available treatments. It’s a powerful documentary that gives you insight into a whole new world!

Out of the Dark

Out of the Dark is a 2022 documentary that shines a light on the lives of people with mental health struggles. It’s a youth-focused series that depicts personal stories of those struggling with mental health. The goal of this series is to create a dialogue and awareness, and to inspire the next generation to be vocal and open about their journey when they live with mental illness. And, seriously, it’s super inspiring.  

Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind

This documentary, told largely through Robin Williams’s own words, celebrates the life and career of Robin Williams, who died due to suicide in 2014. It features interviews with big name actors, such as Whoopi Goldberg, David Letterman, and Billy Crystal. It really shows you how some of the most seemingly happy people in our lives can secretly be dealing with huge struggles. 

Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated

In Simply Complicated, actress and singer Demi Lovato shares her story of her struggle with bipolar disorder, drug use, and eating disorders. This story doesn’t end there, though. This documentary also shares Lovato’s road to sobriety and a healthy life as she continues to live with bipolar disorder.

If you’re dealing with addiction or drug use (or any other mental health disorder) this documentary will definitely give you hope! For more inspiring stories, listen to the episode of Recovering from Reality called Self-Accountability and Sobriety and the episode of Real Pod called Living With Bipolar II, Overcoming Trauma, & Healing Family Wounds!

Facing Suicide

Facing Suicide explores the crisis of suicide by combining personal stories of people impacted by suicide and the profiles of scientists researching new insights into this mental health crisis. This documentary offers risk factors and prevention strategies as well, making it a must-see for anyone impacted by suicide or suicidal ideation.

Mental Health Documentaries list

Decolonizing Mental Health

Decolonizing Mental Health sets out to dismantle the prejudice, racism, and discrimination prevalent in the mental health industry. This is a real issue, guys! The 2022 documentary focuses on the transformative work of therapists and people of color. Its goal is to change the ways we define, assess, and diagnose psychiatric illness and health. 

Letters From Generation Rx

This 2017 documentary dives deep into the science behind antidepressants and their effect on the brain. It also details some of the horrific experiences patients and their loved ones have had to endure due to the hidden issues with these drugs. The documentary challenges the belief that medication is the best solution to mental health problems. 

If you or someone close to use is going through the healing process, this insight is super valuable. To hear another perspective on medication for mental illness, listen to this episode of Real Pod!  

If you’re looking for a good documentary, look no further!

We’ve got plenty of recommendations for you. These mental health documentaries and related podcasts are interesting, informative, and might challenge your thoughts on mental health or, they might tell you something you already know! You’ll have to watch and listen to find out.

Love documentary-style podcasts? You’ll be totally obsessed with Believable: The Coco Berthmann Story. It’s the story of Coco Berthmann, who became internet-famous when she shared her story of surviving sex trafficking. But, in 2022, Coco was arrested for raising money for a fake cancer diagnosis, calling her whole story into question. The podcast doesn’t bash her and her claims, but instead looks at the mental condition of Coco and how she could be pushed to lie about her past. 

Feel like these documentaries are telling YOUR story, too? It may be a sign you need a mental health day. Get some rest, girl! Not only do you deserve it, but you NEED it. And if you’re struggling, don’t forget to celebrate your wins when you have them. If you need help remembering, check out this Celebrate Your Wins shirt from Freckled Foodie & Friends!