Disney and Pixar Join Mental Health Industry

in Pixar

Joy about to hug Anxiety in the control room

Credit: Disney Pixar

From animated films to theme parks to cruise ships, Disney has had its Mickey Mitts in many pies. However, a recent Inside Out project revealed that the House of Mouse would be getting into the mental health game as well.

Animated characters from the movie "inside out" with joy in the center, surrounded by sadness, anger, and disgust, in a colorful setting, expressing a range of emotions.
Credit: Pixar

Pixar’s surrealist dreamscape did more than take viewers inside the mind of a young girl; it sparked a dialogue about emotional and mental well-being that is still being held today. With Inside Out 2 (2024) finally getting its sequel on June 14, 2024, similar conversations are happening again, and Disney is getting much more involved.

Related: Study Shows Disney+ Is Good for Mental Health

Although they might be colorful cartoon representations of abstract emotions like Joy (Amy Poehler), Sadness (Phyllis Smith), Fear (Bill Hader/Tony Hale), Disgust (Mindy Kaling/Liza Lapira), and Anger (Lewis Black) have opened our eyes to the innermost workings of complex feelings in a more tangible way. As the sequel prepares to do the same, Disney gave kids and parents a unique tool for better emotional management.

Inside Out 2: Feel Your Feelings

As the trailer demonstrates, Riley has a new set of emotions joining the main cast. As Anxiety (Maya Hawke), Envy (Ayo Edebiri), Ennui (Adèle Exarchopoulos), and Embarrassment (Paul Walter Hauser) repress the original leads, Pixar and Disney are showing the struggles and potential dangers of poor emotional health.

Related: Bandit’s Battle: Men’s Mental Health in ‘Bluey’

From the footage fans have seen, Riley is going through quite the emotional rollercoaster, leading to the displacement of the original film’s leads. As Pixar’s emotions sort themselves out, Disney and Pixar teach audiences to do the same thing.

The image shows a book cover titled "Feeling Feelings: Inside Out, Disney Pixar, A Guided Emotions Journal." The cover features Joy and Fear, two characters from the movie "Inside Out," set against a blue background. Behind the cover are shelves filled with colorful orbs.
Credit: Inside the Magic

Feeling Feelings is a guided emotions journal made in tandem with the film’s release, which is designed to aid users of any age in healthily expressing which emotions are “driving their console.” The official description reads as follows,

“This mindfulness journal is just the thing to encourage you to check in with yourself and manage your feelings throughout the day. With journaling space for goal setting in the morning and reflection in the evening, this simple mood tracker journal uses the films’ characters to help you express your emotions and jot down your feelings in an approachable, Pixar-inspired way.”

The journal, like the movies that inspired it, allows people who use it to see their feelings from a removed perspective. Knowing which one of the “Mixed Emotions Club” is sitting in the driver’s seat can drastically alter how we process and address our emotional states.

Why it Matters

Embarrassment, Anxiety, Envy, and Ennui working the control board in Inside Out 2
Credit: Pixar

Disney and Pixar (namely the latter) recently came under fire for changing the model of telling stories in their movies. Instead of pulling from personal stories, reports say that upcoming Pixar films will focus on more universal experiences shared with the viewer rather than those of the creators.

Related: Marvel Superheroes Pose Psychological Benefits, Study Proves

While this will hurt the studio for a time, universal experiences have served the studio well in the past. Ideas like toys coming to life, monsters in the closet, and bugs mimicking human society are all concepts many of us have considered before, and so is the idea of voices in our heads.

Because attitudes toward mental health have changed in the past few years, Pixar’s decision to shift focus might actually be the best move, especially given its recent mass layoffs. Moreover, the attention given to emotional well-being with a product like this might reflect well on Disney as a whole.

Related: Pete Docter Talks Replacing John Lasseter as Pixar Creative Head

It’s no secret that The Walt Disney Company has had image issues with some of its recent releases, so using one of its films to start a dialogue on a problem faced by almost all its consumers is truly a step forward. After all, being with our feelings isn’t always as bright and colorful as cartoons make it look.

Inside the Magic would like to thank Chronicle Books for the copy of ‘Feeling Feelings’ and their contribution to this piece.

Are you in touch with your emotions? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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