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Mental Health: How Pixar's "Inside Out" Reveals Our Internal Battles

Posted by Brian Spence on Jun 19, 2015 8:00:00 AM

Mental Health, Pixar, Inside Out, Behavioral Health, EmotionsThese days, it's hard to find a film that tackles mental health or emotions vividly and with relative light-heartedness or hope. But Pixar's new film for children is filling that gap, with a creative animated film suitable for kids and adults.

Pixar's new movie, Inside Out, gives us a glimpse of that emotional battle.

The movie mostly takes place inside the mind of Riley, an 11-year old girl whose family moves from their home in Minnesota to San Francisco.  Her personified emotions are in control of her. Joy (played by Amy Poehler), Anger (Louis Black), Disgust (Mindy Kaling), Fear (Bill Hader) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) are literally operating her mental and physical state via a control room. As she deals with moving and leaving her friends behind, viewers can relate to the 5 emotions that influence Riley's day-to-day actions and unconsciousness.

Director Pete Docter and his crew put in a lot of work bringing in research on mental health and human emotions for this film. They came up with the 5 major ones based on Dr. Paul Ekman's research on identifying emotions, and consulted many other experts (such as Dacher Keltner), in order to gain insight on what everyone feels, yet can't always articulate.

Together, the film replicates a struggle that many of us face: having intense emotions through new experiences and changes. While one emotion might dominate others in any given moment, the film helps to draw the connections amongst all of them, emphasizing how our feelings are a result of each emotion playing an important role in our lives. Overall, the film creates an additional avenue about mental health and emotional well-being, especially for topics that most people are silent about.

To learn more about Pixar's Inside Out, read NPR's interview with the director here. To gain more insight on Mental Health and Behavioral Health issues, visit the Staffing Plus blog.

Image courtesy of Pixar
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Staffing Plus is a premier healthcare staffing firm that provides temporary, per diem, temp-to-hire and permanent Staffing Solutions for Behavioral Health, Education, and Healthcare settings. We have leveraged decades of experience to assist organizations with the challenges of managing their HR and Recruiting needs.