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Top 10 movies for study of mental health

Monday, 25 August 2014 9:44pm

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Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook, one of the top 10 movies for learning about mental health.

A new study from the University's Wellington campus identifies a top 10 list of movies that Medical students can view for self-directed learning around mental health conditions.

Lead author, Associate Professor Nick Wilson, says the aim was to create a top 10 list of movies which are both educational and entertaining. The idea for the study was to build on the successful use of movies with public health themes which has been built into routine teaching of Fourth Year Medical students.

The selected topic areas for the new study of movies were the top five mental health conditions from the Global Burden of Disease 2010 study. From a total of 503 potential movies sourced through a search of literature and websites, 23 were selected for viewing and more detailed critique.

The final top 10 were:

For depressive and anxiety disorders
Ordinary People (1980), Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

For illicit drug use
Trainspotting (1996), Winter’s Bone (2010), Rachel Getting Married (2008), Half Nelson (2006)

For alcohol use disorders
Another Year (2010), Passion Fish (1992)

For schizophrenia

The Devil and Daniel Johnston (2006), An Angel at My Table (1990)

Freely available in the Wellington Medical Library, the movies are a worthwhile consideration for self-directed learning by Medical students, says study co-author and Psychiatry Lecturer Dr Mark Huthwaite.

“This is a great way to learn outside of routine working week hours. The final selection are all highly entertaining, with rich content in terms of psychiatric themes.”

For example, Silver Linings Playbook is a romantic comedy, but has quite detailed content around the lead character’s bipolar disorder, depicted by actor Bradley Cooper. The main female character, played by Jennifer Lawrence, has unclear mental health issues – possibly a borderline personality disorder – and the father, played by Robert De Niro, likely has an obsessive compulsive personality disorder, he says.

The study has been published in the journal Australasian Psychiatry and can be found here.