There are nights when I want to watch something on Netflix, but it’s just so hard to pick only one thing. It’s like going into a candy store and only getting to pick one piece of candy when I know there’s so much more to enjoy. So, what usually happens is I’ll end up browsing for easily 20 minutes before I finally settle on the most interesting option. Honestly, I usually end up feeling guilty for picking yet another food show, like Good Eats or Cutthroat Kitchen. But I’m also a huge mental health and homelessness advocate, so I’m always happier when I dodge the Good Eats episode on cupcakes, and head right for one of these much more fulfilling options.
Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve rounded up some of my favorite mental health and homelessness documentaries on Netflix. But I couldn’t resist doing it again, because the first roundup — check it out here — became our most-read blog ever. And, really, I can’t wait for you to watch this new batch of flicks.
So, here are 5 more mental health and homelessness documentaries that are more than worth skipping Netflix’s snack isle for something that is good for your heart and your mind. And this time around, I added rottentomatoes.com ratings to rank them!
1. Dogs With Jobs
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 100%
Not a big surprise that the doggie documentary is No. 1, right? In this series, pups show off their incredible skills, whether they are sniffing out explosives, or, in one case, a cocker spaniel named Honey works with women who are incarcerated. I’m a sucker for anything with dogs in it – you are too, no doubt — so this is a great series for all of us dog lovers. Plus, how can you not like the episode about a chocolate lab helping a 7-year-old boy impacted by autism? The answer: It’s impossible!
2. Lost Angels: Skid Row Is My Home
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 84%
This documentary explores the lives of eight inspirational people who are committed to ending homelessness on Skid Row in Los Angeles. Overall, the film demonstrates how proactive approaches to ending homelessness – namely safe and affordable housing – are helping people escape Skid Row to ultimately live in recovery from mental illness and substance use. This film received rave reviews when it screened at the 2014 National Conference on Ending Homelessness.
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 79%
Did you know that research has shown that only 10 percent of our happiness is due to our external circumstances? Yup, a whopping 90 percent is based on our inner environment, while 50 percent comes from our genes. The remaining 40 percent comes from intentional activities like self-reflection, mindfulness, and gratitude. What makes us happy really is a mystery, so this documentary explores happiness by taking us from the bayous of Louisiana to the deserts of Namibia, from the beaches of Brazil to the villages of Okinawa. Which community is the happiest? You’ll have to watch to find out!
4. Free the Mind
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 68%
Can we use mental practices to change the physical structure of the brain? Neuroscientist Richard Davidson finds out by exploring how yoga and meditation eases the effects of PTSD for two veterans, and helps a child deal with anxiety.
5. Running from Crazy
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score: 50%
I hate the stigmatizing word “crazy,” but I applaud Mariel Hemingway — she’s Ernest’s granddaughter — for having the courage to share how mental illness and substance use have impacted her entire life. She also frankly talks about how seven of her relatives, including her sister and grandfather, died by suicide.