Mental health as depicted in the movie “As Good As It Gets (1997)”
Mental health should be taken with the seriousness that it deserves in the lives of the people
in the society. The biggest problem is that mental health issues have received less attention
among the people in society despite the fact that it is a very serious issue that should be
addressed in the best way possible. There is a deficiency in information such as the actions
that should be taken to prevent the mental disorders, identification of when the disorder is
developing, knowledge on the sources of help and the treatment options that are available,
knowledge on the self-help strategies that will help in dealing with the mild conditions as
well as the first aid skills that can be used to support the other in the society that has the
mental health conditions (Jorm, 2012). This paper is an assessment of how mental health has
been addressed in the movie titled “As Good As It Gets (1997).” It is an assessment of how
the accuracy of the portrayal of mental illness, treatment recommendations that have been
addressed, professional ethics with regards to dealing with the mental conditions that have
been addressed in the movie as well as the prevention strategies that can be used to prevent
the disease (Brooks, (Director), 1997).
The movie “As Good As It Gets (1997)” provides an accurate portrayal of the obsessive-
compulsion to a public that seems to be shy of information. Jack Nicholson takes the
character of Melvin Udall in the movie, which is an obsessive-compulsive and misanthropic
novelist. His obsessive-compulsive disorder makes him too avoid stepping on the sidewalk
cracks as he moves around the city. It also makes him eat from the same table in one
restaurant daily. He is then interested in the waitress Carol Connelly who is the only person
in the establishment that can withstand his behavior. As a result of the obsessive-compulsive
disorder, he has to turn the lock on his apartment door precisely five times. The movie also
shows how mental health problems among people affect others in society. For instance, when
Simon is assaulted and hospitalized, Melvin Udall is forced to take care of his dog until he
gets out of the hospital. In the process, he becomes emotionally attached to it. When Simon
finally gets out of the hospital, Melvin Udall is not willing to return the dog to the owner
because he has developed an emotional connection to it. The failure to return the dog and the
assault makes Simon slide into depression. The movie also portrays the effect that the other
people have on the people that are suffering from mental disorders. Melvin Udall then gets
attention from Carol, and his life is suddenly altered when Carol decides to work closer to her
home in Brooklyn so that she can take care of her son Spencer who is suffering from acute
asthma. When Simon’s dog, Verdell, chooses Melvin, coupled with the assault that he
suffered, makes Simon fall into depression. It is an entertaining story that talks about the
effects of mental health disorders in society (Feltey & Sutherland, 2012).
There are several ways in which the mental health conditions are treated in the movie titled
“As Good As It Gets (1997).” One of the treatment strategies that has been portrayed in the
story is the ability of an individual to deal with the condition through the development of
relationships. For instance, Melvin manages to establish important relationships that make the
symptoms that he is portraying to fade away; hence there is no need for sophisticated
treatment regimes. The other notable thing is that the patient seeks help when they identify
the problem that they are suffering from. Simon is taken to rehabilitation and medical
treatment when assaulted and when he slides into depression. The other treatment methods
that can be used in the treatment of the disease include exposure and response prevention
MENTAL HEALTH 3
(ERP), psychotherapy, and medications such as Clomipramine (Anafranil), Fluoxetine
(Prozac), Fluvoxamine, Paroxetine (Paxil, Pexeva), Sertraline (Zoloft). Melvin Udall would,
therefore, undergo the three treatment strategies (Perera-WA, 2016).
Professional ethics have been presented in the story. The doctors and therapists have been
portrayed as people who provide solutions to the patients. The patients go to the doctor and
therapists with the aim of finding solutions to their problems. The story also shows that
untrained people can also be good therapists. For instance, the ability of Carol to withstand
the abuses by Melvin inspires the latter to be a better man hence makes him change for the
better. The importance odd depicting the therapists in this way shows the role that the people
in the society can play in helping the people that are suffering from mental health conditions
(Brooks, (Director), 1997).
There are several prevention strategies that can be used to protect people from mental health
conditions. They include helping each other in society to deal with the problems that they are
facing. For instance, the help that Melvin gives Simon prevents the latter from further
harming himself. Carol also helps Melvin to deal with the obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The strategy used by Carol can be used in preventing the situation from occurring in the lives
of the people; hence it is supposed to be embraced in society. It should be noted that the
process of prevention is much more effective compared to the cure (Brooks, (Director),
MENTAL HEALTH 4
Brooks, J. L. (Director). (1997). As Good As It Gets. Sony Pictures Releasing.
Feltey, K., & Sutherland, J. A. (2012). Cinematic sociology: Social life in film.
Jorm, A. F. (2012). Mental health literacy: Empowering the community to take action for
better mental health. American psychologist, 67(3), 231.
Perera-WA, H. (2016). Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): A Psychological Character
Analysis. Available at SSRN 2732185.