Behavioral economist and nobel-prize winning psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, PhD, briefly summarizes the important points of his 2011 book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow.” He explains the difference between the two systems of thinking: thinking fast is characterized by immediacy and lacks formal reasoning while thinking slow takes more time and is based on logic. He explains that everyone uses both types of thinking, and that the slow thinking in system two is the type of reasoning we need to apply more often. Kahneman explains how this applies to how we choose speak to others in our day-to-day lives, how individuals are diagnosed by professionals, and how we interpret what we perceive to be differences between others and ourselves. This interview was conducted by The Guardian, a British news source. (00:04:23) | 2011
This brief clip from the documentary “No Kidding, Me 2!” (2010) examines the stigma attached to people with mental illness, including the “GOMER” (Get Out of My Emergency Room) treatment they often receive from medical professionals. This video could be used as a tool to increase awareness and open a dialogue among medical professionals and/or patients. This video is available on the No Kidding? Me Too! YouTube channel. (00:02:06) | 2009
Well-known celebrities speak out in support of people suffering from mental illness and voice their opposition to the stigma attached to it. Why do we attach stigma to illnesses of the brain when we don’t stigmatize illnesses associated with other bodily organs? This video explains the irrationality of this stigma and could be an effective tool for raising awareness and showing patients that they are not alone. This video is available on the No Kidding? Me Too! YouTube channel. (00:01:02) | 2010
This nkm2.org PSA was released in response to the 2011 shooting in Tucson. This video features compelling statistics to dispel the myth that people with severe mental illness are a danger to others. The subject matter may be difficult for young children, but otherwise, everyone should watch this video. This video is available on the No Kidding? Me Too! YouTube channel. (00:00:57) | 2011
This very short video presented by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) features Amanda, a woman with depression, who briefly describes her techniques for recovery. This video could be useful to begin a discussion about depression, stigma, or support systems in mental health recovery. This video is available on NAMI’s YouTube channel NAMIvideo. (00:01:11) | 2009
This video won the April 2012 Art With Impact’s video contest. It sends the simple message that silence perpetuates the stigma that so negatively affects those with mental illness. Specifically, the message is directed toward those with suicidal ideation and the potential harm of remaining silent for fear of the stigma associated with such thoughts. This video would be great to show to clinicians, clients, students, and individuals in the medical field. This video is available at www.artwithimpact.org, which provides a variety of videos and other advocacy efforts using art. (00:01:58) | 2011
In this short video, we watch and listen as a young woman’s inner dialogue becomes increasingly negative and anxious as she is left waiting for her ride. The video begs the question about society at large and mental illness: are the increased demands on individuals in society so overwhelming that they are creating a mental health crisis? Or are there simply those that suffer from mental illness and those that do not? This video could spark a discussion on negative thinking patterns and norming mental health issues, and would appeal to many audiences because of its relatability. It could possibly spark some controversy if taken as a victim-blaming tactic. This video was shortlisted by HeadsUp after being submitted to the 2011 HeadsUp Video campaign to raise mental health awareness. (00:01:59) | 2012
This simple video provides some statistics on the prevalence of mental health in men, women, and children and gives a brief definition of mental illness as a faulty coping mechanism for events in life. This video could be useful for professionals and those in treatment as well as in any discussion on mental health and illness. It could be used for stigma reduction by norming these experiences. This video is available on YouTube. (00:01:30) | 2011
Out in the Silence is a feature-length documentary by Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer profiling the varying emotional reactions of the citizens of a small Pennsylvania town struggling with homophobia. The initial spark – Joe and Dean’s same-sex wedding announcement in Oil City’s local newspaper – fuels the controversy. When Joe, a social activist and filmmaker, receives a plea for help from the mother of a gay teen being bullied at school, Joe and Dean return to Joe’s hometown to learn why the locals continue to remain so close-minded.
The film follows Joe over a three-year period as he bonds with and offers his encouragement and support to CJ, the teenager, and Kathy, his mother. Observing community events, Joe engages with the townsfolk, traditional values activists, school authorities, and local church and civic leaders. Two parallel stories highlight the difficulties Roxanne and Linda, a couple trying to reopen an historic community theatre, encounter and the developing friendship between Joe and Mark, a local fundamentalist preacher.
A compelling and thought-provoking documentary, Out in the Silence is sure to increase awareness of the prejudice towards those who do not fit within the conservative American norm. Surprisingly filled with joy and humor, Out in the Silence illustrates that when courageous individuals break the silence to discover common ground, change happens. The film’s website contains resources for those wishing to use this film for outreach and education. This video is available on YouTube. (1:04:44) | 2009
In this short clip of an interview with Harry Hay, he talks about the kind of stigma and challenges homosexual individuals faced in the 1930s and 40s. It provides insight for those currently caring for elderly LGBT clients regarding what they went through and why they might fear health care providers. This video is available on archive.org. (00:06:11) | 2012
This video is a PSA warning young boys about the dangers of accepting rides and favors from strangers. However, instead of using words such as “child molester” and “pedophile,” the film explicitly uses the word “homosexual” and refers to this behavior as a sickness. Though the intent of the video is to protect young boys by warning them about dangerous individuals who are capable of sexually abusing them, the video communicates the message that all male homosexuals are dangerous individuals who are sick and prey on young boys. (00:10:12) | 1961
No Kidding! Me [Trailer]
No Kidding! Me 2!! is the title of both a film and the non-profit organization behind it dedicated to “stomping the stigma” surrounding mental “dis-ease.” This documentary is the directorial debut of actor Joe Pantoliano, who has appeared in such films and TV series as The Sopranos, The Matrix, and Memento.
Pantoliano’s goal is to make brain disease “cool and sexy” so that somebody suffering from this condition could openly admit to it in the same way that they could any other physical malady. According to statistics in the movie, 1 in 4 Americans suffer from mental illness. Such frequency means that 4 in 5 Americans have a friend or family member with this condition. Having to cope with stigma makes treatment and recovery additionally challenging.
This 76-minute documentary focuses on the stories of several people who have survived and flourished in spite of their disease. They include the director himself, his wife, and his children. Pantoliano relates his experience with clinical depression and addiction. He explains how it influenced his decision to become an actor and how it affected his career. His wife and children also share what it was like to live with him during his bad periods. We also meet a diverse group of people who share their stories of enduring clinical depression, bipolar disorder, self-mutilation, attempted suicide, schizophrenia, PTSD, ADHD, and addiction.
This engaging film is available for purchase as a DVD or video stream through Amazon.com and iTunes. Numerous reviewers on Amazon report that it has been useful in encouraging discussion and greater understanding in a number of venues, including classrooms and clinical settings.
The New Black [Trailer]
This engaging and timely documentary by Yoruba Richen “tells the story of how the African American community is grappling with the gay rights issue in light of the recent gay marriage movement and the fight over civil rights.”
The film demonstrates that while stigma against homosexuality still exists in some segments of the African American community, these sentiments are not unanimous.
Richen first became interested in the issue when learning about the fight over Proposition 8 in California. In this legal case, a ballot initiative was used to reverse the right of same sex couples to wed in the state. This right was eventually restored by the Supreme Court on June 26, 2013.
The original success of the ballot initiative revealed a split between many African Americans and the progressive contingent who support same sex marriage. In 2012 a referendum called “Question 6” was placed on the general election ballot in Maryland. It was a similar attempt to reverse a bill that legalized same-sex marriage (called the “Civil Marriage Protection Act”). However, the results in Maryland were different this time, and the Act was upheld by a 52.4% majority of voters.
Richens decided to explore the issues raised by focusing on activists from both sides in the weeks before the election. With unbiased compassion she gives voice to many in the community – not only those who are unequivocally for or against same-sex marriage, but those who are struggling to reconcile their beliefs. There are a diverse range of opinions, and many people hold evolving views on the subject.
This reviewer saw the film at the AFI Docs festival, where it received a standing ovation and generated lively discussion afterwards. It also won the audience award for best feature. The New Black should prove a useful tool for those who want to expand the conversation about stigma and race. | 2013
My Name is Al is a beautifully photographed 15-minute documentary profile by Kristin Alexander of a medical professional in recovery.
Dr. Al Peters is a high achiever who completed 7 years of schooling in 5 and had established a successful dental practice by age 21. By then he also already had a significant problem with alcohol, having experienced his first blackout at age 14.
In early adulthood, Dr. Al managed to maintain sobriety for 10 years but then relapsed for another 12. After recovery finally took hold in 1979, he decided to earn a Master’s degree in social work, feeling that this could be useful in fighting the conspiracy of silence about addiction in the medical community. At that time, many medical professionals felt that alcoholism was just the symptom of an underlying psychopathology or moral defect and not a treatable disease.
Using his own experience with addiction, Dr. Al began to write about alcoholism in dental and medical publications. He experienced much initial resistance to the idea that “alcoholism happens to us too”. Dr. Al describes alcoholism as a “feeling disease”. He believes that the training that medical professionals receive to suppress their feelings when dealing with patients can carry over into not dealing with their own feelings that trigger and maintain an addiction. However, as Dr. Al mentions, the American Medical Association gradually came around to acknowledging alcoholism as an actual disease and not merely as a moral failing.
This film provides important insights into the early days of addiction treatment and could prove useful in encouraging discussions about the history of addiction treatment and the evolving views on substance use disorders. (00:14:36:00) | 2012
The Anonymous People [Trailer]
The Anonymous People is an independent feature-length non-fiction film. While some viewers will call it a “documentary”, others may consider it more of an advocacy piece because it does indeed have a clear and obvious point of view. However, this film also presents many interesting facts about the history of addiction treatment in the United States and could, therefore, be very useful in starting a conversation about the role and future of the recovery movement.
Traditionally, anonymity has been a core tenet of the many 12-step programs patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. Embedded in the very names of these programs is the assurance that group members are strongly encouraged to respect the confidentiality of other members. The social stigma attached to addiction has been so strong that very few people would be willing to seek treatment if their condition were to become public. The film does acknowledge the benefits to this approach.
However, many of those interviewed for this film feel strongly that this approach is a double-edged sword; that preserving anonymity may also help to perpetuate that very stigma. They believe that if those in recovery openly discuss their substance dependence and tell their stories, addiction will then be seen as just another disease or medical condition. This openness will not only lead to more people seeking help, but also to more resources being allocated for research and treatment. This is the approach advocated by the non-profit organization Faces and Voices of Recovery, an advocacy movement affiliated with this film, whose mission is:
“ . . . organizing and mobilizing the over 20 million Americans in recovery from addiction to alcohol and other drugs, our families, friends and allies into recovery community organizations and networks, to promote the right and resources to recover through advocacy, education and demonstrating the power and proof of long-term recovery.”
Running 88 minutes, the film may be too lengthy to be viewed and discussed in a single class. However, the “Our Stories” page of the website: provides many short clips from the film that might be more useful in an educational setting. They also provide a “Recovery Advocacy Toolkit”
In this 17-minute TedTalk, Dr. Delaney Ruston shares the story of her father who suffered from schizophrenia and reveals the shame and grief that his loved ones endured. This engaging speaker is not only a practicing physician but an accomplished filmmaker, as well, who has been making documentaries about mental illness for over a decade. Her experiences living with a family member with mental illness became the topic of one of her documentaries. Through filming, she discovered the power of a personal story to inspire compassion. She realized that “stories invite other stories” as more and more people came forward with their own experiences of coping with mental illness.
While working in clinics in poverty-stricken areas, Dr. Ruston started thinking about the combined effects of poverty and mental illness. This led to her desire to explore the situation of those struggling with both conditions in other parts of the world. Her latest film “Hidden Pictures” was the result. According to the World Health Organization, 450 million people globally have some type of a mental disorder. We hear so little this about because the stigma of mental illness is also global.
In recounting some of her experiences in making this documentary, Dr. Rushton delivers a compelling call to change the paradigm from silence to compassion; to share our stories and spread them widely to inspire others to action; and to work towards reducing the shame and stigma of mental illness. (00:16:55) | 2013