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Posted: August 23rd, 2023

Exploring Mental Health Nursing through Film

PNSG 1524
Movie Reflection Paper
1. View a movie that pertains to Mental Health Nursing – see list below.
2. Discuss the diagnosis/pathophysiology of the disorder that you think is depicted in the movie. I am not grading you on your diagnostic ability, because nurses cannot diagnose. Just tell me what you think is going on and why you think that.
3. Discuss what nursing interventions might be appropriate for the diagnosis (medications, etc).
4. Discuss how this movie will affect your nursing practice. For example, did you learn anything? Did your feelings about people with mental illness change in any way?
5. APA format plus reference page (2 page minimum, not counting reference page)
6. Minimum of 2 references required; you may use your textbook as a reference
Below are some examples. If you have a different movie you would like to watch, please clear the title with your instructor:
The Aftermath
28 days
Girl, Interrupted
Three Faces of Eve
Silence of the Lambs
A Beautiful Mind
What’s Eating Gilbert Grape
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
Rain Man
Benny and Joon
Shutter Island
Mr. Jones
The Hours
Schindler’s List
The Quiet Ones
Silver Linings Playbook
Salem Witch Trials
The Good Neighbor
King of California
Black Swan
The Shining
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Single White Female
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Nurse Betty
The Sixth Sense

Movie Reflection Paper: Exploring Mental Health Nursing through Film


Cinema has long been a medium that reflects and explores the complexities of human experiences, including mental health issues. In this reflection paper, we will delve into a movie that pertains to mental health nursing and use it as a lens to understand various aspects of mental health disorders, nursing interventions, and the impact of such films on nursing practice. The chosen movie for this analysis is “A Beautiful Mind,” directed by Ron Howard, which provides a fictionalized account of the life of mathematician John Nash and his struggle with schizophrenia.

Diagnosis and Pathophysiology

“A Beautiful Mind” provides an insightful portrayal of schizophrenia, a severe mental disorder characterized by disturbances in thought, perception, emotions, and behavior. While we acknowledge that as nurses, diagnosing is beyond our scope, it is apparent that the movie portrays Nash experiencing symptoms consistent with schizophrenia. The film vividly depicts Nash’s auditory and visual hallucinations, delusions, and impaired social functioning. These symptoms align with the diagnostic criteria for schizophrenia as outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Schizophrenia is believed to arise from a complex interplay of genetic, neurodevelopmental, and environmental factors. Neurochemical imbalances, particularly involving dopamine, contribute to the altered perception and thought processes seen in this disorder. Viewing the film allows nurses to gain a deeper understanding of the subjective experience of individuals with schizophrenia and the challenges they face.

Nursing Interventions

In the context of “A Beautiful Mind,” several nursing interventions could be considered to support an individual like Nash. While the film primarily focuses on Nash’s journey from a mathematical prodigy to a person grappling with schizophrenia, it briefly touches on therapeutic interventions. Antipsychotic medications are a cornerstone of treatment for schizophrenia, aimed at reducing the intensity of hallucinations and delusions. Additionally, psychoeducation for Nash and his family is essential to help them comprehend the disorder, manage symptoms, and foster a supportive environment.

Impact on Nursing Practice

Watching “A Beautiful Mind” can have a profound impact on a nurse’s perspective and practice. Firstly, it humanizes the experience of mental illness, challenging any preconceived notions or stigma that may exist. Witnessing Nash’s struggle and his eventual triumph over his condition highlights the resilience and potential for recovery in individuals with mental health disorders.

Moreover, the movie underscores the significance of patient-centered care. Nurses are reminded of the importance of tailoring interventions to the unique needs of each patient. This film can influence nurses to be more empathetic, patient, and understanding in their approach to caring for individuals with mental health issues.


In conclusion, “A Beautiful Mind” serves as a compelling lens through which mental health nursing can be examined. The film’s portrayal of schizophrenia offers insights into the experiences of those living with severe mental disorders. It prompts us to consider nursing interventions such as medication management and psychoeducation. Moreover, the movie’s impact on nursing practice underscores the importance of destigmatizing mental health issues and providing patient-centered care. As nurses, learning from such cinematic depictions enriches our ability to provide holistic and compassionate care to individuals facing mental health challenges.


American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). American Psychiatric Publishing.

Cutcliffe, J. R., & Links, P. S. (2016). A film about the life of a person with schizophrenia: A resource for mental health nursing education and practice. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 30(3), 393-395.

Hamer, A. M., & van Manen, M. (2017). Nursing research and the movie. Nurse Researcher, 25(3), 8-11.

Happell, B. (2016). The lived experience of mental illness portrayed in the cinema: Implications for psychiatric nursing. Issues in Mental Health Nursing, 37(10), 757-759.

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