Inside Out – Starting an important conversation about mental health

We have all got it, not everyone talks about it, and now there is a movie about it on the big screen - Inside Out.

Inside Out is based in the mind of an 11 –year old girl named Riley. The 5 main characters (voices) are the emotions in her head - led by optimistic and enthusiastic Joy (voice of Amy Poehler) whose mission is to make sure Riley stays happy.  Fear (voice of Bill Hader), heads up safety, Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling), basically prevents Riley from getting poisoned both physically and socially. Anger (voice of Lewis Black), ensures all is fair and Sadness (voice Phyllis Smith) is not exactly sure what her role is, and frankly, does anyone else? After all, what possible use could an emotion that felt sorrow be in one’s mind?

Ever since Riley moved from Minnesota to San Francisco, there was a real shift with her emotions.  Sadness would forcibly interject herself in Riley’s day, and the other emotions would become frustrated with the way she was acting. Sadness would reply, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me—I cant help it”. There was a moment that I realized Riley was experiencing depression-like symptoms when she cried in front of her class. She also began isolating herself from her family, her best friend, even hockey, which were all meaningful things that made up her identity.

As the movie progresses, we learn that every emotion in Riley’s mind serves a purpose - even sadness. We often attempt to push sadness aside, but it’s a natural emotion that has a place in our lives. Sadness and Joy have to go on a journey through Riley’s mind to get back to headquarters. On the journey they meet her imaginary friend, and in one scene he is very sad as he realizes his memories are being destroyed to make room for other stages in Riley’s life.  Joy tries to cheer him up and make him laugh, but to no avail. It was only when Sadness sat down, and took her sadness and used it to empathize with him, that he felt better. It was at that moment, that Joy realized that Sadness did have a role in Riley’s mind. Sadness is necessary in some situations, whether it is to emphasize with someone who is feeling down, or a chance to express how you really feel.  When Riley finally does expresses sadness, her family and friends give her support and love to help heal her pain. This is a lesson we can all learn from.

Inside Out by Disney –Pixar is a movie I recommend. The lessons in this movie are not only for an 11 year old girls, but adults too! If you try to live your life, pretending to be happy and ignoring what is really bothering you, you may end up doing more damage than you think. It is important to express one’s feelings and confide with people you trust, both at home and in the workplace. We spend most of our days at work, and therefore the work environment can both positively and negatively impact our mental health. Having proper communication with colleagues, and the ability to be reflexive about feelings and emotions can help ensure you are taking care of your mental health, like Riley.  

We have all heard the statistic that 1 in 5 of may experience mental illness in their lives, but 5 in 5 of us has mental health, so it is important to take care of it and learn from Inside Out!  

What did you learn from the movie?