The Joker: The Mental Health Aspect

Alexis Huang, Focus Editor

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The Joker has been causing major controversy in terms of the way it portrays mental health. The story focuses on Arthur Fleck who struggles with being accepted by society. The beginning of the movie highlights his unhappiness and all the events that lead up to him turning into a villain. Movies, comics, and shows portray the character as a villain who acts out of pure evil, but The Joker delves into his past. 


The movie unveils details about his mother, his socioeconomic status, and struggle to fit into a society who’s unwilling to accept him because of his mental illness. While critics claim The Joker glorifies mental illnesses, the movie manages to accurately depict the reality of our society treats those struggling with it. Throughout the exposition, we see the way those Arthur interacts with treating him differently because of his condition. A mother on a train attempts to shield her son from him and children on a train bully him because they see him as “weird”. These interactions reflect the way our society treats those struggling with mental illnesses.

The movie displays the darkest side of mental health, even though it never specifies Arthur’s condition. It portrays childhood trauma and a life of being unaccepted caused him to start his downward spiral into evil. While not every aspect of the movie is true to the reality of mental health, it does get a lot of it right. It shows how our society ‘s unwillingness to accept people like Arthur because he’s “different”. Another aspect of mental health The Joker accurately depicts is the social services aspect. In the movie, it is revealed that Arthur’s therapist’s organization was forced to close because there was a lack of federal funding. The Cohen Veterans Network conducted the America’s Mental Health 2018 survey finding that American mental health services are insufficient despite 56% of Americans seeking help. This scene in the movie reflects the lack of attention to mental health, only exacerbating the issue. The Joker truly emphasizes the issues of mental health and our society’s deepest flaws when dealing with the issue at hand.