Two days ago, I saw the movie, 'Unsane' with my best friend and we both felt that it did a good job addressing the mental health stigma that exists in our world today. Despite some discrepancies in the film, I believe that this film does an adequate job of depicting the way in which the mental health industry functions, and quite sadly, fails to function.

As someone who suffers from Mental illness, I always find it interesting seeing the way in which the media portrays those who have been diagnosed with conditions ranging from mild depression to schizophrenia and everything in between.

'Unsane,' an intriguing movie

The movie intrigued me because it focuses on a young woman named Sawyer, and her experience from what she believes is a routine therapy appointment, to being involuntarily committed to a mental health institution. According to the New York Post, Sawyer has "had to uproot her life to escape the lunatic infatuation of a man (Joshua Leonard) she briefly befriended. When she visits a therapist (Myra Lucretia Taylor) to discuss the lingering psychological fallout, she finds she’s actually been tricked into signing involuntary-commitment paperwork instead."

The film documents her journey as she navigates through her first few days in the hospital and attempts, but fails to truly get adjusted to life within the institution.

Sawyer attempts to make friends, only to see one of her true friends she meets there, fall to a nasty fate at the hand of her alleged stalker. We see Sawyer as she encounters many obstacles during her stay, many of which are depicted in a rather accurate light.

Why I empathize with Sawyer

I have been hospitalized and felt a strong connection to the protagonist and truly empathize with the pain she endures and the uncertainty that surrounds her.

There were many times during my own experience where I felt extremely alone and isolated even though I was surrounded by countless other individuals who were going through similar things that I was enduring. I also know what it's like to feel misunderstood and even ignored by the doctors who are supposed to be helping by providing care.

Mental illness isn't a joke and sadly a large number of people view it as such; something which can be easily controlled and maintained with hospitalizations or medications alone. What these close-minded, 'neuro-typical' individuals fail to appreciate is just how hard coping with a mental illness can be. It is hell, a blessing and a curse all in one. The way I'd describe it is as a beautiful disaster. It can be neatly packaged into something that looks pretty but is actually a coarse pill with the sugar coating removed, that one can barely swallow because of how large and uncomfortable it can be to get down.

While there are things that happen in this movie that I disagree with, I think it raises poignant questions and depicts some of the more hidden things that occur behind the walls of mental institutions in the United States, some with which I agree and others with which I do not.

The Washington Post describes the film as "a straightforward, B-movie horror flick — “The Snake Pit” without the prestige — complete with intentional overdosing, electroshock torture and patients threatening each other with sharpened spoons when they’re not either screaming or catatonic."

When it comes down to it, our society needs to rub the metaphorical fecal matter from its eyes and realize the true nature of mental health, and the institutions that are trying, yet in many ways, failing the patients who walk through its doors. As a nation, we need to change the way we view mental health and help, rather than harm those who suffer from conditions. I truly believe that there is so much more we can be doing to rid our mind, our society and our world of stigma and the main way we can do so is by listening, embracing and loving one another regardless of the demons that lurk within our closets.

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, please reach out and contact:

  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255)