Theater and mental illness may sound like an odd combination, but the marriage of the two has long been an effective way to allow audience members to process and normalize mental health issues. Theater has been a leader in showcasing fascinating characters who struggle with, and even celebrate, their mental health challenges. Live theatre offers a unique and creative way for people who struggle with mental illness to feel less alone and better represented to the masses who attend live performances.

From Shakespeare to New Musicals 

Theater and mental illness have a storied history of entertaining and educating audiences, going back to Shakespearean days. More recently, Dear Evan Hanson, the Tony-winning Broadway musical, showcases the life of a teenage boy dealing with depression and anxiety. Premiering in 2018, Jagged Little Pill uses the music of Alanis Morissette to explore issues like trauma, PTSD and opioid addiction. 

Celebrating People with Mental Health Issues

Rather than stigmatize those who experience mental health problems, these shows often offer sympathetic characters for whom audiences can root. Next to Normal features a mother experiencing the trauma of the loss of her son. A cast of characters who escaped a mental health facility in Anyone Can Whistle are easy to love and can sometimes seem more “normal” than the rest of the cast.

Don Quixote in Man of La Mancha is a delusional man who gains insight through looking at himself in mirrors; an apt analogy for therapy. Look for performing arts that feature theatre and mental illness to help feel less alone, while also being entertained.


Alta Loma understands that treatment isn’t just about therapy appointments and the cerebral work of dealing with chronic mental health issues. We also understand that using the arts can help a person better understand their conditions and see themselves in a more positive light. We offer art therapy to assist in learning how to develop your artistic side as part of building a better you. Our residential facility feels more like a home than a clinic, giving you a relaxing men-only environment designed to help you focus on learning healthy coping skills for the mental health issues you experience. Our experts can equip you with the life skills you need to move forward. We treat chronic conditions including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder (1 and 2), avoidant personality disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and PTSD. Call Alta Loma at (866) 457-3843 today to discuss your options for life-changing treatment at our central Texas location.