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Collection National Screening Room

Mental Health Films

The films in this presentation, dating mainly from the 1950s, are a striking example of how mental illness—so often sensationalized in Hollywood features—could be handled with considerably more nuance and sensitivity when produced for educational and training purposes. Many of these films were intended for mental health professionals. For example, The Steps of Age (1950) deals with the stresses that some people face upon retirement. At the other end of the age spectrum, Angry Boy (1950) offers counseling guidance on how to deal with anger issues in children.

On the other hand, The Lonely Night (1954) and Fears of Children (1951) were intended for more general audiences, promoting understanding for people struggling with mental illness, while Palmour Street (1949) uses an African-American family in Georgia to illustrate the influence parenting has on a child's emotional well being.

Collection Items

Articles and Essays

Written by film scholar and collector Rick Prelinger and published in 2006 by the National Film Preservation Foundation, The Field Guide to Sponsored Films External is an indispensable resource for more information about mental health films, many of which are featured in this presentation.