Thursday, February 14, 2008

Our Mental Health is precious

Three of my favourite films are;

*A Beautiful Mind
*One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
*The Dream Team’

All are powerful films portraying the challenge of people who have mental health problems being fully accepted by the rest of us – the supposedly ‘normal’ population.

In ‘A Beautiful Mind’ Russell Crowe brilliantly portrays the mathematical genius John Nash in his battles to rid himself of the images and voices that haunt him as he struggles to cope with his own genius.

Jack Nicholson in ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' is fantastic and I feel this film should be compulsory viewing for all employees working in mental health care. How the rights of people are completely stripped in an old fashioned institutional setting is emotionally harrowing. But the ‘inmates’ rise gloriously if tragically above it all in the end.

‘The Dream Team’ is a touching and moving story of how four inmates from the local mental institution are left to fend for themselves in the centre of New York after their Psychologist is mugged. The ‘inmates’ have to cope with life in the City for a few days. It is a remarkably powerful film tinged with comedy and poignancy.

We all walk a very thin line between staying mentally healthy and becoming mentally ill.

People who have mental health problems need to be understood and helped - not shunned by society.


Mike said...

There is a public service advertisement currently running on American TV that addresses how important it is to just remain a friend to someone who is diagnosed with a mental illness. Hopefully this is one effort to break through the stigma surrounding these normal medical problems.

A Beautiful Mind was a powerful film. I watched it without knowing the story behind it, so when it was revealed halfway through that most of the major characters were imaginary I was completely stunned! I remember being in a theatre full of people who collectively "got it" at the same instant. Three hundred people saying "Whoa!" at the same time.

Marilyn said...

Truer words were never spoken. People forget that a mental illness is just that, an illness. It is one that the person has to deal with every day of their lives.

As research unlocks more of how the brain works, I believe that eventually all mental illness will be found to be genetically linked, and in essence is a brain disease.

Treatment seems to range from the competent to the woefully inadequate. It is time to bring mental illness out of the shadows.

For additional insights I highly recommend the audio version of "The Noonday Demon."

Trevor Gay said...

Mike – Annie and I both had exactly the same experience about A Beautiful Mind. It was way into the film before we realised it was in John Nash’s mind and not reality. It is an incredible film. The stigma sadly still exists here in the UK too about mental illness. We do not realise how many of us are potentially mentally ill. I recently heard from a well respected doctor who works in the mental heath service that 1 in 4 of us will suffer from clinical depression in our lives. It seems to me ‘the blues’ or feeling a little sad can easily become a full blown mental illness. I love the sound of that initiative in the States. I pray that it lifts the stigma of mental illness and makes us all realise as the old saying goes ‘There, but for the Grace of God, go I.’ Thanks for sharing your thoughts Mike as always.

Marilyn – thank you. When we see a person in a hospital bed through physical illness or maybe in a wheelchair, we identify easily this person is suffering an illness. The person who suffers mental illness often conceals the obvious outward signs and the rest of society may never know the anguish the person is going through internally. I agree with you totally that it is time to bring mental illness out of the shadows – it is closer to all of us than we think.

Rocky said...

What a great topic. Mental Illness has always been largely misunderstood. Most of us will know someone that suffers from some sort of mental illness and yet we often avoid the issue. Movies and media coverage have really helped to spread light on the issue. As technology increases new discoveries are being made every day to help with finding answers and potential remedies.

Trevor Gay said...

Hi Rocky - I hope you are well. I'm sure in your work with children you have come across many mental health issues. Maybe our children and grandchildren will see less stigma associated with mental illness than our generation.