The global estimation of people with mental health or substance use disorders is around one billion — yes, one billion. These statistics in no way capture the entire picture, though.
Cultural stigma, lack of access, affordability, and discrimination all play a part in excluding, silencing, or hindering people from reaching or accepting mental health support.
As this issue continues to gain recognition as a crucial aspect of our overall well-being (there’s more mental health good news than ever before!), documentaries have become a powerful visual tool for us to explore the complexities and spectrum of mental health, while also celebrating its breakthroughs.
Before you add any of these documentaries to your queue, it’s important to note that some cover very triggering topics, like sexual assault, abuse, and suicide. Online resources like Unconsenting Media and DoesTheDogDie help viewers avoid issues they’re not quite ready to explore yet.
(And, as always, if you’re feeling troubled by any of these documentaries — or need some support in general, we encourage you to check out our collection of mental health resources. Take good care!)
In advocating for the mental health of others, we hope you, too, are advocating for yourself.
We’ve gathered some of the best documentaries out there that offer a unique and often intimate look into the lives of individuals, families, and organizations working toward breaking existing stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health.
From the impact of trauma and addiction to the struggles faced by young people, these films not only provide a look into the human experience, but they also serve as an important message of hope and healing for those who may feel alone in their struggles.
By the way, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
Mental Health Documentaries To Stream Right Now
Selena Gomez: My Mind & Me (2022)
“My Mind & Me” offers an intimate look into the life of Selena Gomez, a singer, actress, and mental health advocate who has struggled with bipolar disorder, anxiety, and depression. The film spans over six years and takes viewers on a journey through Gomez’s ups and downs as she navigates managing her mental health.
The documentary also features interviews with mental health experts, advocates, and Gomez’s friends and family members who have supported her along the way.
With its message of hope and self-acceptance, “My Mind & Me” aims to promote a greater understanding and awareness of mental health issues while encouraging viewers to seek help and support when needed.
How to watch: Apple TV
The Me You Can’t See (2021)
Co-creators and executive producers Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, present the multi-part documentary series, “The Me You Can’t See,” which features stories on the current state of mental health and emotional well-being in the greater zeitgeist.
The series includes candid interviews with mental health advocates, experts, and guests such as Lady Gaga, Glenn Close, and San Antonio Spurs’ DeMar DeRozan, alongside people from around the world living with mental health challenges — including the co-creators themselves.
This series aims to transcend culture, age, gender, and socioeconomic status to destigmatize a highly misunderstood subject and offer hope to viewers struggling with mental health.
How to watch: Apple TV
Nadiya Hussain: Anxiety And Me (2021)
You might recognize Nadiya Hussain from “The Great British Baking Show” and her epic 2015 win. However, it’s her mental health advocacy efforts that have us rooting for her.
In Hussain’s documentary, she helps break down the misconceptions surrounding anxiety disorders and documents her own journey as she undergoes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) — exploring the root causes of her anxiety and how it has affected her personal and professional life.
Throughout the documentary, Hussain meets with mental health experts and individuals living with anxiety disorders to learn more about the condition and how to cope.
The documentary is a powerful reminder that mental health issues can affect anyone, regardless of age, background, or social status, and that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
How to watch: YouTube
Light In The Darkness – Living Well After Trauma (2019)
Six out of every 100 Americans suffer from PTSD at some point in their lives, and “Light In The Darkness – Living Well After Trauma” aims to give viewers a better grasp of what it’s like to live with this disorder — as well as reasons to hope.
Through intimate interviews and raw footage, the film explores the profound impact of trauma on our mental health and well-being and how people can find healing from it.
While it centers on stories of hope and resilience, the film also offers valuable information and resources for those struggling with trauma or mental health issues.
Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness (2022)
“Hiding in Plain Sight: Youth Mental Illness” shines a light on the often-ignored issue of mental illness among young people. The film follows the stories of 20 young Americans as they navigate their way through anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
The film explores the impact of mental illness on young people and their families, as well as the struggles they face in seeking help.
It also highlights the need for increased investment in mental health services and resources to ensure young people receive the care and support they need to lead happy and fulfilling lives.
How to watch: PBS
Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home (2010)
“Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home” delves into the lives of those living in Los Angeles’ Skid Row. It exposes the dire need for comprehensive mental health and social services to aid individuals grappling with addiction, mental illness, and poverty. The film also focuses on the challenges organizations face in providing care and support.
The documentary offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the lives of people often overlooked and ignored by society. It humanizes the struggles of this population, compelling us to confront our own internal biases and perceptions.
By highlighting the hardships faced by those living on Skid Row, the documentary aims to foster greater empathy and awareness about the struggles of individuals experiencing mental health issues.
How to watch: Prime Video
- Life, Animated (Prime Video)
- My Depression: The Up and Down and Up of It (Tubi)
- Unstuck: An OCD Kids Movie (Vimeo)
- Robin Williams: Come Inside My Mind (Prime Video | HBO Max)
- How to Change Your Mind (Netflix)
- Boy Interrupted (Prime Video | HBO Max)
- Thin (Prime Video | HBO Max)
- Wildcat (Prime Video)
- Stutz (Netflix)
- The Anonymous People (Prime Video)