Lights, Camera, Mental Health: The Transformative Power of Watching Movies 

Movies have been captivating audiences for over a century, transporting us to different worlds, evoking emotions, and sparking our imagination. While we often associate movies with entertainment, they offer far more than just a few hours of escapism. In fact, watching movies can have significant mental health benefits, especially for youth who are facing incredibly challenging circumstances.  

Many youth who come to Covenant House have faced a great deal of trauma and may be dealing with an anxiety disorder, depression, other mental health issues, and are enduring unhealthy amounts of stress due to their circumstances, which could be: 

  • fleeing violence or abuse from home or another close relationship 
  • experiencing homelessness or being at risk of it 
  • aging out of foster care 
  • being new to the country 
  • escaping human trafficking 
  • not being accepted by their family 

With all the difficulties and challenges these youth are facing, taking the time to watch a movie could help improve their mood. A  2016 review found that enjoying leisure activities such as watching movies could boost mood and reduce symptoms of depression. Youth workers periodically host movie nights and transform the gym into movie theatre where youth can let their guard down and unwind with their peers in a soothing and immersive experience.  

Movies and Relaxation:  
According to a 2017 study, pleasurable distractions and entertainment, such as watching movies, can contribute to relaxation and replenishment. In addition to movie nights, our Excursion Volunteers plan outings and take youth on various excursions every Tuesday. From bike rides to the theatre, to plays, music concerts, and sporting events; youth can engage in a fun activity and socialize with their peels. knowing they are safe with our volunteers. If you would like to volunteer to become an Excursion Leader or want to donate tickets to a local event, please contact: 

Movies and Motivation: 
Movies have the potential to be highly motivational. Giving your mind a break from world and immersing yourself in an enjoyable movie can serve as a catalyst for increased productivity and can help prevent burnout. In fact, a 2020 study suggests that movies depicting individuals successfully pursuing their ambitions can inspire viewers to do the same. They may even spark the desire to take up a new hobby or pursue a previously unexplored goal. 

Stress Reduction: 
Laughter has long been recognized as a powerful stress-reliever, and movies, particularly comedies, can offer a much-needed dose of laughter. A 2016 study discovered that laughter can reduce stress hormones, such as cortisol and epinephrine, in the body. However, if you’re not in the mood for laughter, opting for a drama or tearjerker can also be beneficial. Surprisingly, crying can lower cortisol levels in the blood, as revealed by a 2020 study. So, depending on your mood, you can choose a movie that aligns with your emotional needs to help reduce stress. 

Social and Cultural Reflection: 
Movies can provoke thought and inspire social and cultural reflection. By watching films that tackle complex or challenging topics, you can gain a better understanding of current social issues and engage in conversations that explore diverse perspectives. Movies can serve as educational tools, enlightening viewers and encouraging them to think critically about the world around them. 

Watching movies is more than mere entertainment—it can be a powerful tool for mental well-being.