I was already bristling at the idea of watching The New Mutants. Whenever a movie is set in a mental hospital, I always worry that it’s going to make light of mental illness, portraying it as a scary monster that “normal” people either have to escape or defeat. Or worse, they offer a simplistic and damaging interpretation of mental illness.
Maybe some day I’ll rant about Dark Phoenix.
But The New Mutants surprised me. Not only did it come away with a pretty decent message — trauma and mental illness can’t be fought alone — but it managed to (accidentally?) touch on a serious problem that persists in places throughout the mental health system: the use of seclusion and restraint.
In this video, I’m taking a look at The New Mutants through this very particular lens. I don’t know that I’d call this a review! I don’t know that I can “review” this movie as just a fun, superhero, comic book movie. On that front it…kinda works? Really weird they focused so heavily on the main character’s Native American heritage in the beginning, only to use it for a couple racist quips, but…the action scenes are fun? See? I don’t know how to do this.
So, I’m just focusing on the mental health and trauma depictions in this movie and that’s where this movie really affected me. I also reached out to Debbie F. Plotnick from Mental Health America to discuss the use of seclusion and restraint in mental health care settings. But if you’re also feeling isolated due to COVID-19, check out their resources here on how to handle the mental health challenges that the pandemic has presented.