Entertainment

The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness  

Ranker Film
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There are a number of documentaries out there that discuss mental illnesses, including depression, suicide, autism, and insomnia. Documentaries are great educational pieces that can be extremely informative. The best documentaries about mental illnesses approach their given topics by presenting multiple sides of the issues and offering practical solutions. What are the best documentaries about mental illness?
 
A person who’s suffering from a mental illness can be hard to understand. Many display irrational behaviors and thinking patterns that isolate them from the rest of the world. For family members and friends who know a loved one suffering from an illness of this type, a relationship can be incredibly difficult to navigate without better understanding. A documentary about mental illness can help identify medical reasons for mental disorders, and offer a sense of connection through understanding the associated symptoms more easily.
 
This list discusses the best documentary films discussing mental illness, including: The Horse Boy, Ryan, Tarnation, Happy, Let There Be Light, Isolation, Other Voices, Flipping Out, Walk Away Renee, Warrendale, and My Heart of Darkness. 
list ordered by
1
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Jeff Feuerzeig
The Devil and Daniel Johnston is a 2005 documentary film about the noted American musician Daniel Johnston. It chronicles Johnston's life from childhood up to the present, with an emphasis on ...more
2
Multiple Personality: Re... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Multiple Personality: Reality and Illusion James Myer
Multiple Personality: Reality and Illusion is a 1999 documentary film that explores Dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. The fact based docudrama ...more
3
Thin is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Lauren Greenfield
The 2006 cinéma vérité documentary film, Thin, directed by Lauren Greenfield and distributed by HBO, is an exploration of The Renfrew Center in Coconut Creek, Florida; a ...more

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4
Alien Boy: The Life and ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Brian Lindstrom
Alien Boy: The Life and Death of James Chasse is an American feature length documentary film, released in 2013 and directed by Brian Lindstrom. The film explores issues of police accountability ...more
5
Happy is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Happy
6
Running from Crazy is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Running from Crazy Barbara Kopple
Running from Crazy is a 2013 documentary film by director Barbara Kopple about the family of Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway. It was shown at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Through ...more
7
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Jonathan Caouette
Tarnation is a 2003 American documentary film by Jonathan Caouette. The film was created by Caouette from over 20 years of hundreds of hours of old Super 8 footage, VHS videotape, photographs, ...more

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8
Let There Be Light is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Let There Be Light John Huston
Let There Be Light is a 1946 American documentary film directed by John Huston. The film was the last in a series of three films directed by Huston while serving in the United States Army Signal ...more
9
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Ryan Chris Landreth
Ryan is a 2004 animated documentary created and directed by Chris Landreth about Canadian animator Ryan Larkin, who had lived on skid row in Montreal as a result of drug and alcohol abuse. ...more
10
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Canis Lupus added Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive Ross Wilson
Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive is a 2006 two-part television documentary directed by Ross Wilson and featuring British actor and comedian Stephen Fry. It explores the ...more
11
Other Voices is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Dan McCormack
Other Voices is a 2000 drama film written and directed by Dan McCormack.
12
Tourettes: I Swear I Can... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Tourettes: I Swear I Can't Help It
13
John's Not Mad is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
John's Not Mad is a QED documentary made by the BBC in 1989. It was ranked, in a British public poll, as one of the 50 Greatest Documentaries.
14
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Frederick Wiseman
Titicut Follies is a 1967 American documentary film directed by Frederick Wiseman and filmed by John Marshall, about the patient-inmates of Bridgewater State Hospital for the criminally insane, ...more
15
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Are the Kids Alright? Ellen Spiro, Karen Bernstein
Are the Kids Alright? is a documentary film which explores mental health care for children and youths at risk in Texas. Filmmaker, Ellen Spiro, gained unprecedented and unique access to troubled ...more
16
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Michel O. Scott
A family travels through Mongolia in search of a mysterious shaman who they believe can heal their autistic son.
17
A Journal of Insomnia is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
A Journal of Insomnia Bruno Choinière, Thibaut Duverneix, Philippe Lambert
A Journal of Insomnia is a 2013 web documentary about insomnia, produced by Hugues Sweeney and created by Bruno Choiniere, Philippe Lambert, Thibaut Duverneix and Guillaume Braun for the ...more
18
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The Collector of Bedford Street Alice Elliott
The Collector of Bedford Street is a 2002 documentary film about director Alice Elliott's neighbor, Larry Selman, a community activist and fundraiser who had an intellectual disability.
19
I'm Still Here: The Trut... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Robert Bilheimer, Richard Young
I'm Still Here: The Truth About Schizophrenia is a documentary film about schizophrenia. This 65-minute, black-and-white film was written and directed by Robert Bilheimer. Bilheimer began ...more
20
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Glenn Jordan
Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love is a televised docudrama film that aired on NBC in 1979 and is adapted by the biographical book Son-Rise by Barry Neil Kaufman. It is the real life story of how, ...more
21
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Dialogues with Madwomen Allie Light
Dialogues with Madwomen is a 1993 documentary by Allie Light focusing on mental illness in women.
22
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Billy O'Brien
Isolation is a 2005 Irish horror film directed and written by Billy O'Brien and produced by Film Four and Lions Gate Film Studios. The film was released direct to DVD on 26 June 2007.
23
Code Therapy is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Jason Jensen added Code Therapy
24
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Out of the Shadow Michael Winner
Out of the Shadow is a 1961 British thriller film directed by Michael Winner and starring Terence Longdon, Donald Gray, Diane Clare, Robertson Hare and Dermot Walsh.
25
Georgi and the Butterfli... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Georgi and the Butterflies Andrey Paounov
Georgi and the Butterflies is a Bulgarian documentary film from 2004. It was directed by Andrey Paounov. The film won the "Silver Wolf" award at the International Documentary Film