film The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness  

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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. 

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The Devil and Daniel Johnston 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

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Ryan Derek Lamb, Ryan Larkin, 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

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Alien Boy: The Life and Death ... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Alien Boy: the Life and Death of James Chasse 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

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Running from Crazy is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Running from Crazy 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

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Thin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Thin 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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Code Therapy is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Jason Jensen added Code Therapy

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Canis Lupus added Stephen Fry: The Secret Life of the Manic Depressive 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

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Tarnation Jonathan Caouette, Michael Cox 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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Let There Be Light is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Let There Be Light 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

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Titicut Follies 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

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Multiple Personality: Reality ... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Multiple Personality: Reality and Illusion 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

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Other Voices is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Other Voices Stockard Channing, Mary McCormack, Rob Morrow Other Voices is a 2000 drama film written and directed by Dan McCormack.

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Walk Away Renee is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Walk Away Renee Dominic Gould, Jared Hutchinson, Jorge Torres-Torres Walk Away Renee is a 2011 American documentary film directed by Jonathan Caouette. It is the third full length feature in Caouette's filmography. Intended as a companion to Caouette's first ...more

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The Horse Boy A family travels through Mongolia in search of a mysterious shaman who they believe can heal their autistic son.

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Isolation Ruth Negga, Essie Davis, Sean Harris 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.

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I'm Still Here: The Truth Abou... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
I'm Still Here: the Truth About Schizophrenia 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

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Are the Kids Alright? 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

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Tourettes: I Swear I Can't Hel... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Tourettes: I Swear I Can't Help It

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Marwencol Mark Hogancamp "Marwencol is a fantasy world created by Mark Hogancamp. This website is dedicated to capturing the beauty of Mark's secret world. After being beaten into a brain-damaging coma by five men ...more

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Flipping Out is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Flipping Out Flipping Out is a 2008 documentary film directed by Yoav Shamir describing the drug use of Israeli men and women in India. It follows Israeli soldiers who take their discharge bonus and travel ...more

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Lipsett Diaries Xavier Dolan, Samuel Jacques, Jarvis Robinson Neall Lipsett Diaries is a 2010 short animated documentary about the life and art of collage filmmaker Arthur Lipsett, animated and directed by Theodore Ushev and written by Chris Robinson. The ...more

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My Heart of Darkness My Heart of Darkness is a Swedish–German 2010 documentary film about four ex-soldiers from different sides of the Angolan civil war and their posttraumatic stress disorder. The film was recorded ...more

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A Summer in the Cage A Summer in the Cage is a 2007 documentary film about a man's experiences with bipolar disorder. The film follows the filmmaker's friend Sam and features an interview with mental health scholar ...more

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Seven Dumpsters and a Corpse Thomas Haemmerli, Erik Haemmerli Seven Dumpsters and a Corpse is a documentary film by Swiss journalist Thomas Haemmerli.

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Children of the Stars Children of the Stars is a 2007 documentary about children with autism in the People's Republic of China. It was produced by Alexander Haase and directed by Rob Aspey. The title is an English ...more

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Happy is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Happy

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The Collector of Bedford Street 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.

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A Journal of Insomnia is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
A Journal of Insomnia 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

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Out of the Shadow Terence Longdon, Donald Gray, Dermot Walsh 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.

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John's Not Mad is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
John's Not Mad 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.

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My Name Is Alan and I Paint Pictures My Name is Alan, and I Paint Pictures is a 2007 documentary film directed by Johnny Boston. The film stars and is materially about Alan Russell-Cowan, an artist diagnosed with schizophrenia. The ...more

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Recovered: Journeys Through the Autism Spectrum and Back Recovered: Journeys Through the Autism Spectrum and Back is a 2008 documentary about four children who have completely recovered from the autism spectrum. The film is directed by Michele Jaquis ...more

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Georgi and the Butterflies is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Georgi and the Butterflies 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

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A Place for Paedophiles is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
A Place for Paedophiles Louis Theroux A Place for Paedophiles is a British documentary that was televised on 21 April 2009. Produced and presented by Louis Theroux, the documentary ran for 60 minutes, and took place at Coalinga ...more

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Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love Melissa Francis, James Farentino, Don Chastain 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

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Crazy is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Crazy

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Refrigerator Mothers is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Refrigerator Mothers It is America of the 1950s and 1960s, when a woman's most important contribution to society is generally considered to be her ability to raise happy, well-adjusted children. But for the mother ...more

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You're Gonna Miss Me Billy Gibbons, Roky Erickson You're Gonna Miss Me is an American documentary film by Keven McAlester. It focuses on Roky Erickson, the former frontman for the band The 13th Floor Elevators. The band is cited as pioneers of ...more

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Prisoner of Her Past Sonia Reich Prisoner of Her Past is a 2010 documentary film, produced by Kartemquin Films, that follows the journey of Chicago Tribune music critic Howard Reich as he travels to Europe to discover why his ...more

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Whole is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Whole Whole is a documentary about people with body integrity identity disorder. It first was broadcast on the Sundance Channel in 2004.

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Unknown White Male Unknown White Male is a 2005 documentary film directed by Rupert Murray, covering the life of his childhood friend Doug Bruce, a British resident of New York who appeared to suffer from sudden ...more

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West 47th Street West 47th Street is a documentary film produced by the Peabody Award-winning Lichtenstein Creative Media. "West 47th Street" is an intimate cinéma vérité portrait ...more

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Warrendale Warrendale is a 1967 documentary film by Canadian filmmaker Allan King. It was originally produced for broadcast on CBC Television, but was never shown due to King's refusal to edit out the ...more

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Dialogues with Madwomen Dialogues with Madwomen is a 1993 documentary by Allie Light focusing on mental illness in women.

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Zelal Zelal is a documentary film directed by Marianne Khoury and Mustapha Hasnaoui.

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Poster Girl Poster Girl is a 2010 short documentary film directed by Sara Nesson.

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Silent Minority is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Documentaries About Mental Illness
Silent Minority Nigel Evans Silent Minority is a 1981 British documentary film made by Nigel Evans for ATV which aired in June 1981 on ITV. The film spotlights the conditions of mental patients at the Borocourt Hospital ...more

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Wretches & Jabberers Wretches & Jabberers is a documentary film directed by – and, with Douglas Biklen, co-produced by – Gerardine Wurzburg about two autistic men who travel the world helping other autistic ...more

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Reminiscences Reminiscences is a 2006 documentary film written and directed by Ivan Vojnár.

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First Kill First Kill is a 2001 Dutch documentary film that revolves around the psychology of war. Important turning points in the Vietnam War are used to illustrate the effect of war on body and mind. The ...more