15 Motivational Movies for Better Mental Health

15 Motivational Movies for Better Mental Health
01.04.2024

In times of turmoil or when the world feels overwhelming, sometimes all we need is a dose of inspiration and motivation to uplift our spirits and rejuvenate our mental health. While therapy and self-care practices are essential, the power of storytelling through movies can also work wonders in providing solace and encouragement.

Here, we present fifteen motivational movies that not only entertain but also offer valuable insights and encouragement for better mental well-being:

  1. The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
    Based on a true story, this film follows Chris Gardner, played by Will Smith, as he struggles with homelessness while striving to provide a better life for himself and his son. It’s a powerful narrative of resilience, perseverance, and the unwavering pursuit of happiness against all odds.
  2. The Terminal (2004)
    Victor Navorski reaches JFK airport from a politically unstable country. Due to collapse of his government, his papers are no longer valid in the airport, and hence he is forced to stay in the airport until the war cools down. He makes the airport his home and develops a friendship with the people who work there until he can leave
  3. The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
    A timeless tale of hope and redemption, this film chronicles the bond between two prisoners, Andy Dufresne and Ellis “Red” Redding, as they navigate life within the confines of Shawshank State Penitentiary. Their resilience in the face of adversity and their unwavering belief in the power of hope serve as a poignant reminder of the human spirit’s capacity to endure and overcome.
  4. Good Will Hunting (1997)
    This Oscar-winning film tells the story of Will Hunting, a janitor at MIT with extraordinary mathematical abilities but struggles with his past traumas and insecurities. Through therapy sessions with a caring psychologist, Will learns to confront his demons and embrace his potential, showcasing the transformative power of therapy and self-discovery.
  5. Dead Poets Society (1989)
    Set in an elite boarding school, this film follows English teacher John Keating, portrayed by Robin Williams, as he inspires his students to seize the day and pursue their passions fearlessly. Through Keating’s unconventional teaching methods and emphasis on individuality, the movie encourages viewers to break free from societal norms and live authentically.
  6. Life is Beautiful (1997)
    A poignant blend of humor and heartbreak, this Italian film follows a Jewish man named Guido who uses his imagination to shield his son from the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp. Despite the grim circumstances, Guido’s unwavering optimism and love for his family serve as a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of maintaining hope in the face of adversity.
  7. The Blind Side (2009)
    Based on a true story, this heartwarming film portrays the journey of Michael Oher, a homeless and traumatized boy who finds hope and belonging with a compassionate family. Through the transformative power of love and support, Michael overcomes his past and discovers his potential, inspiring viewers to believe in the power of kindness and resilience.
  8. War Horse (2011)
    On the outbreak of the First World War, Albert’s beloved horse ‘Joey’ is sold to the Cavalry by his Father. After being sent to France, in a bid to survive, Joey has an unexpected journey across war torn Europe. Albert enlists in the British Army, and is wounded during the Battle of the Somme. Whilst recovering in Hospital, he learns of a Horse, found in no mans land.
  9. Forrest Gump (1994)
    Forrest Gump is a simple man with a low I.Q. but good intentions. He is running through childhood with his best and only friend Jenny. His ‘mama’ teaches him the ways of life and leaves him to choose his destiny. Forrest joins the army for service in Vietnam, finding new friends called Dan and Bubba, he wins medals, creates a famous shrimp fishing fleet, inspires people to jog, starts a ping-pong craze, creates the smiley, writes bumper stickers and songs, donates to people and meets the president several times. However, this is all irrelevant to Forrest who can only think of his childhood sweetheart Jenny Curran, who has messed up her life. Although in the end all he wants to prove is that anyone can love anyone.
  10. A Beautiful Mind (2001)
    This biographical drama tells the story of John Nash, a brilliant mathematician who struggles with schizophrenia. Despite his mental health challenges, Nash’s perseverance and resilience enable him to make groundbreaking contributions to mathematics and ultimately find redemption and acceptance.
  11. Coach Carter (2005)
    In 1999, Ken Carter accepts the job of basketball coach for his old high school in a poor area of Richmond, CA. As much dismayed by the poor attitudes of his players as well as their dismal play performance, Carter sets about to change both. He imposes a strict regime typified in written contracts that demand respectful behavior, a dress code and good grades for players. Any initial resistance is soon dispelled as the team under Carter’s tutelage becomes a undefeated competitor. However, when the overconfident team’s behavior begins to stray with too many doing poorly in class, Carter takes immediate action. To the outrage of the team, the school and the community, Carter cancels all team activities and locks the court until the team shows acceptable academic improvement. In the ensuing debate, Carter fights to keep his methods, determined to show the boys that they need good values for their futures and eventually finds he has affected them more profoundly than he ever expected.
  12. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
    A true story about Frank Abagnale Jr. who, before his 19th birthday, successfully conned millions of dollars worth of checks as a Pan Am pilot, doctor, and legal prosecutor. An FBI agent makes it his mission to put him behind bars. But Frank not only eludes capture, he revels in the pursuit.
  13. Rocky (1976)
    Rocky Balboa is a struggling boxer trying to make the big time, working as a debt collector for a pittance. When heavyweight champion Apollo Creed visits Philadelphia, his managers want to set up an exhibition match between Creed and a struggling boxer, touting the fight as a chance for a “nobody” to become a “somebody”. The match is supposed to be easily won by Creed, but someone forgot to tell Rocky, who sees this as his only shot at the big time.
  14. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
    Rocky Balboa is a struggling boxer trying to make the big time, working as a debt collector for a pittance. When heavyweight champion Apollo Creed visits Philadelphia, his managers want to set up an exhibition match between Creed and a struggling boxer, touting the fight as a chance for a “nobody” to become a “somebody”. The match is supposed to be easily won by Creed, but someone forgot to tell Rocky, who sees this as his only shot at the big time.
  15. Cast Away (2000)
    Memphis-based FedEx operations executive Chuck Noland and grad student Kelly Frears have long dated and lived together, and despite each being the love of the other’s life, have not gotten married because of their respective busy schedules, especially Chuck’s as he is more often on business trips than he is at home. That marital status changes when on Christmas Day 1995 as Chuck is rushing off to catch yet another FedEx plane for a business trip, he gives Kelly a ring. That flight experiences technical difficulties, and goes down somewhere in the south Pacific. In a life raft, a relatively unharmed Chuck washes up on shore what he will learn is a deserted island, he unaware what has happened to any of his fellow flight mates, or the plane. However several of the packages on board for delivery do wash up on shore with him, those packages which he initially treats with respect. Chuck realizes that his priority is survival – which primarily means food, water, shelter and fire – and rescue. But survival is also in an emotional sense. To fulfill that emotional need, he has an heirloom pocket watch with Kelly’s photo that she gave him as a Christmas present, and eventually opening the FedEx packages, a Wilson volleyball on which he paints a face and which he names Wilson. As time progresses, Chuck goes through a range of emotions, but if rescue is ever in the cards, he realizes that he has to find a way to get off the island, which is seemingly impossible in his circumstance due to the strong on shore surf he cannot get beyond without assistance. What Chuck may not fully realize is the longer he is not rescued, the harder it will be for him to return to his old life in its entirety if he ever is rescued. Although the thought of Kelly is what largely keeps him motivated to be rescued, Kelly, who probably believes him to be dead, may have moved on emotionally from him in the intervening time
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Takeaway Note

These 15 motivational movies offer more than just entertainment; they serve as beacons of hope, reminding us of the resilience of the human spirit and the power of perseverance, compassion, and self-discovery in overcoming life’s challenges. Whether you’re seeking inspiration, comfort, or simply a reminder of the inherent strength within us all, these films are sure to leave a lasting impact on your heart and mind, guiding you towards a path of better mental health and well-being.

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