World Mental Health Day is observed on 10th October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. This year the focus is on suicide prevention, there’s more information and videos for classroom use on the topic here
Firstly, I’d like to remind everyone to take the time to listen and spare a kind or encouraging word to those we interact with every day, especially if they look as if they need it, because we all need a smile, a hug, or a supportive word.
Secondly I’d like to share with you my reflections after watching the film, Joker, earlier this week. I wasn’t planning on seeing the movie because I had heard that it was too violent and disappointing, not only by US critics, but also in the UK, where a recent Guardian review describes it as ‘the most disappointing film of the year’. Fortunately, one of my best friends, Elena, convinced me to go with her, and I’m so glad I did!
Joker does include violent scenes, although they are not more graphic than most action movies or video games kids play, and they are not just thrown in for effect, they are embeded in the story line.
It is also dark, because it portrays a heartless and cruel society, and distressing because it proposes no explcit solution to the subsequent violence, and foreshadows an increase in madness and bloodshed.
On the other hand it does accomplish a positive goal, and that is creating empathy with the main character’s life and circumstances. I want to make it clear at this point that I am in no way condoning or justifying Arthur’s behaviour. There is no justification for such extreme violence.
Some may think encouraging empathy is not a positive or necessary goal, that there is nothing to be understood, because the mentally ill should be locked away to protect the rest of the population, but that is neither a long term nor an ethical solution.
There are two solutions implicitly hinted at throughout the film.
In the first place prevention and in the second place adequate, professional and pharamcological support for those who need it.
Arthur was an illegitimate son, born to an unstable mother, herself having been in institutions, while he was physically and mentally abused by step-fathers, rejected by his biological father, ignored by social services, dismissed by mental health services, laughed at by colleagues, ridiculed by passers by and attacked by bullies and gangs.
I kept thinking that so much could and should have been done to prevent the escalation of the decline in his physical and mental health. I am convinced he would have been a different person if he had had better parenting, education and social and mental care.
Whatever you believe, the film certainly encourages debate and analysis of how societies could imrpove mental health issues and social welfare, and that in itself is an invaluable benefit.
Other reasons to watch Joker are, great acting, directing and photography, a moving and action packed story, and a fabulous soundtrack. Here’s my favourite song taken from the staircase scene towards the end of the film.
Here’s the complete playlist on Spotify
There are plenty of great songs such as, Send in the clowns, That’s Life, Put on a Happy Face, Stormy Weather, White Room, Smile, and many more.
Have you seen Joker? What did you think?
Are you planning on seeing it? Why or why not?