Animated Films to Watch This Mental Health Awareness Month

More than one adult in the United States has a mental illness (CDC). Yet, we’re far from talking openly about it. The stigma surrounding mental health prevents people from so much as starting a conversation.


But that’s not how it should be.

Your mental health is as important as your physical health.

That’s why we’re having this talk today and also because it’s Mental Health Awareness Month. But since we’re not medical experts, we’ll talk about mental health the best way we know how – through animation.

Or, more precisely, through animated films that dared to talk about mental health. They may not have discussed it openly (which is understandable considering most animated movies are kids-centric), but there were subtle clues that only hawk-eyed professionals could pick – like AnimationProLabs.

Here are the animated films we thought raised critical points about mental health:


Inside Out

Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios

 Mental health played an instrumental role in Disney and Pixar’s Inside Out. In fact, there’s so much to say about the film that it warrants an entire article.

But for now, a few words should suffice.

Inside Out follows five emotions inside the mind of 11-year-old girl Riley: Joy, Sadness, Fear, Disgust, and Anger. Because of Riley’s father’s new job, the family has to move from Minnesota to San Fransico, much to her disdain.


The rest of the film shows the five emotions dealing with this new change. By the time the credits roll, the audience learns that it’s okay to feel whatever you’re going through. And that you can constructively use your emotions instead of letting them consume you.

Disney and Pixar wanted to get things so right that they consulted Paul Ekman and Dacher Keltner, two psychologists who specialized in studying emotions. According to them, Inside Out showed that our emotions shape who we are.



Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios


Up touches upon many aspects of mental health, from grief to love and affection to obsession. But the film’s central idea is delivered through its protagonist, Carl.

In the first few minutes of Up, Carl falls in love with his childhood friend Ellie and marries her. In a devastatingly heartbreaking scene, Ellie dies before Carl can surprise her by arranging a trip they’d long planned on going to.

Carl never gets over Ellie, causing him to turn into a stubborn 70-year-old man. But soon after, he goes on the trip alone, unintentionally taking an 8-year-old boy, Russell, with him.

Up showed that the loss of a loved one impacts people differently. Some become sad, while others are overcome by anger, which is natural. However, if you don’t control it, it may lead to negative results.

For instance, in one of the scenes, Carl, due to his stubbornness, ends up injuring a construction worker who was just trying to help.



Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios


The main theme of Coco, Disney and Pixar’s film, is the remembrance of those who have passed on.

Coco centers on Miguel, a 12-year-old boy accidentally transported to the Land of the Dead. There, he teams up with his great-great-grandfather, Héctor, to make his way back home.

Héctor also has a daughter, Coco, in the living world, suffering from memory loss similar to dementia. And he wants Coco to remember him. Otherwise, Héctor’s existence will be banished from the Land of the Dead.

Towards the film’s end, Miguel goes to his home and sings a song on Héctor’s guitar. Coco is able to remember Hector and passes away after saving him from being banished from the Land of the Dead. (Pass the tissue box, y’all!).

In more than one way, Coco taught that if you miss someone, don’t bottle the grief inside you. Instead, let it all out to feel better.


Alice in Wonderland

Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Productions


When Alice in Wonderland’s Cheshire Cat said, “We’re all mad here,” no one really thought much of that quote. However, analyzing the film’s underlying messages conveyed through various characters reveals an entirely different story.


Let’s start with The Mad Hatter, who seems to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In the live-action Alice in Wonderland, he’s plagued by nightmares of the Red Queen attacking his village.


Speaking of, the Red Queen’s mental illness is as clear as day – narcissistic personality disorder. She’s incredibly self-centered and devoid of any empathy.


The White Rabbit, on the other hand, may have an anxiety disorder because he’s twitchy, easily annoyed, and constantly worries about being late.


And finally, the titular heroine, Alice, might have an eating disorder in the film. This is put on full display when Alice first arrives in Wonderland and starts consuming all the foods or potions she comes across, only to regret it later.


We’re not exactly sure what Alice in Wonderland taught us, mental health-wise, but it did make one thing abundantly clear – you should train your mind to embrace the unexpected.



Photo Courtesy: Walt Disney Pictures


When Frozen was released in 2013, it was considered a groundbreaking film for not having a prince save the female leads. Instead, their sisterly love was enough to transform them into the heroines of the movie.

But what a large number of people missed were Frozen’s powerful messages of acceptance, self-love, and battling mental illnesses.

Elsa was born with magical powers, the ability to turn anything she touches into ice, but she struggles to control it. Because of this, she feels isolated and excluded, despite being a princess.

The situation is quite similar to someone fighting a mental illness who cannot open up because they think people will judge them.

After accidentally showing her powers and being deemed a villain for doing so, Elsa runs away. With nothing but mountains covered in ice around her, Elsa realizes that she doesn’t have to hide her powers anymore.

That’s when Elsa sings the chart-busting Let It Go, symbolizing that she’s done being chained by her fears.

At the end of Frozen, it’s not a prince in shining armor that saves Elsa, Anna, and their kingdom. Instead, it’s Elsa’s ability to be herself and feel things, especially love, that drove away the eternal winter.


It’s Never Too Late to Prioritize Your Mental Health

Whether you’re struggling with a mental illness or want to talk to your children about it, the right time is now. And if you’re not sure how to start the conversation, why not arrange a family night where you can watch one of the above-mentioned animated films?

This way, you’ll enjoy quality time with your loved ones and discuss the less-talked-about issue.

At AnimationProLabs, we encourage our team to put their mental health above everything else, including their job. Because ours is a productive workplace where everyone gets the time to heal, grow, and prosper.