15 Movies That Feature People Struggling With Psychological Disorders

Surprisingly, few movies explore themes of mental illness. If you thought you'd seen them all, you may be in for a surprise. From Horse Girl to The Fisher King, these underrated films about people with psychological disorders are hidden gems.

1. The Fisher King (1991)

The Fisher King 1991 Robin Williams
Image Credit: Tri-Star Pictures.

This heart-wrenching drama follows an arrogant radio show host who spirals into guilt and depression after his antics on air caused a deranged man to commit mass murder in New York City. Haunted by his actions, the radio show host quits his job and begins drinking to console himself. While on a bender, he meets a homeless man who has psychosis.

The ex-radio host agrees to help him search for the Holy Grail because he discovers the man's mental health is tied to witnessing his wife's murder in the same mass shooting.

2. The Skeleton Twins (2014)

The Skeleton Twins Kristen Wiig
Image Credit: Roadside Attractions.

Just as a woman is about to take her own life, she gets a call from the hospital about her estranged twin brother, who just ended up there after attempting the same thing. The film goes on to explore the siblings' relationships with each other and the events in their lives that contributed to their depression.

3. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

Russell Crowe
Image Credit: Universal/Courtesy Everett Collection.

This biographical drama tells the story of world-renowned mathematician John Nash. It follows his successes in the field of economics as well as his journey with schizophrenia and how the disorder, when untreated, takes over every aspect of his life.

4. What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)

What's Eating Gilbert's Grape Jonny Depp
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures and J&M Entertainment.

In a typical small, midwestern town, a young man cares for his cognitively disabled younger brother and his mentally unstable mother. The film explores the impact of being a caretaker at a young age on both the caretaker and the people in his care.

5. Manic (2001)

Manic Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Image Credit: IFC Films.

In this brutally honest depiction of inpatient mental health treatment, an angry kid ends up in a home for troubled teens after assaulting one of his classmates. There, he engages in group therapy with other kids in the facility. The film depicts the role of trauma in mental illness with a tragic authenticity.

6. Horse Girl (2020)

Horse Girl Alison Brie
Image Credit: Netflix.

Horse Girl is a psychological drama about a quiet young woman who works at a craft store and has a deep fondness for horses. The film chronicles the woman's descent into psychosis as she copes with the recent tragic loss of her mother.

7. They Look Like People (2015)

They Look Like People
Image Credit: Signature Entertainment.

This psychological horror film follows a man who suddenly starts receiving calls and voicemails telling him demons are taking over the bodies of people in his life. Terrified, the man seeks psychiatric help and struggles to determine if the calls are a real-life threat or a horrible delusion.

8. Lars and the Real Girl (2007)

Lars and the Real Girl Ryan Gosling
Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

When a socially anxious, isolated young man finally finds a girlfriend, his family is jubilant until they learn his girlfriend is actually a life-size doll. As his relationship with the plastic woman deepens, his family wonders whether pretending she's real is helping their loved one.

9. Wildflower (2022)

Wildflower Kiernan Shipka
Image Credit: Momentum Pictures.

This coming-of-age drama follows a teenage girl who begins the story lying in a coma in the hospital. The film explores the girl's relationship with her cognitively disabled parents, her role as a caregiver at a young age, and her relationships with her peers as it leads up to the moment that landed her in the emergency room.

10. It's Kind of a Funny Story (2010)

It's Kind of a Funny Story Emma Roberts
Image Credit: Focus Features.

When a depressed teen contemplates ending his life, he decides to check himself into a mental hospital. There, he goes through therapy to help him cope with his stressful high school life and meets others seeking help, just like him.

11. The Machinist (2004)

The Machinist Christian Bale
Image Credit: Filmax Group.

This dark film is about a machinist with extreme insomnia that causes delusions, hallucinations, and weight loss. After his sleep deprivation leads to a horrible accident at work that causes a fellow machinist to lose his arm, the guilt causes the man to spiral.

12. Welcome to Me (2014)

Welcome to Me Joan Cusack
Image Credit: Alchemy.

A woman with borderline personality disorder who lives off disability checks gets the shock of a lifetime when she wins $86 million in the lottery. The woman uses the money to pay for her own live talk show, where she loses friends and embarrasses her family with her self-absorbed antics.

13. Lyle (2014)

Lyle Gaby Hoffmann
Image Credit: Breaking Glass Pictures.

This intense psychological horror film follows a mother who experiences delusions after losing her toddler in a tragic accident while moving into a new home. The film does a terrific job exploring psychosis from the perspective of the person experiencing it and, by the end of the film, you'll still wonder whether the mother's delusions were based on reality.

14. The Aviator (2004)

The Aviator
Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures.

The Aviator is a biographical drama about the life and mental illness of business magnate Howard Hughes. As he gathers more successes in his public life, Hughes battles with increasingly severe OCD until his secret condition begins to take over his life.

15. Take Shelter (2011)

Take Shelter Michael Shannon
Image Credit: Sony Pictures Classics.

When a loving family man begins experiencing strange dreams and hallucinations about an impending apocalypse, he isolates himself from his loved ones as he builds a shelter to prepare. But when he begins to talk to a counselor about his experiences and his family's history of mental health issues, he isn't sure whether to trust the professionals or his internal beliefs.


Maya (she/they) is a queer entertainment and culture journalist. They cover interviews, reviews, roundups, news, and more. She loves horror, history, and creativity. They hope their writing both entertains readers and inspires them to think critically. Her favorite pastimes include needle felting, gaming, and drawing.