Mental illness is a significant global health crisis—as pervasive as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease—but it often exists in secret and is endured in isolation. It’s the place where sadness leaves off and depression begins; where anticipation becomes anxiety, enthusiasm becomes mania, and habit becomes addiction; the place where simply living becomes painful.
There are people struggling with mental illness all over the world: in remote rural communities, small towns, and major cities; in schools, the workplace, and in our homes. It is, in fact, a disease—a complicated one that has been a part of the human condition for thousands of years. Left undiagnosed, mental illness can last a lifetime. Left untreated, it can lead to addiction, homelessness, prison, or even death.
The issues surrounding mental illness are extraordinarily complex; the risk factors are daunting, the economics bewildering, the politics contentious. Public policy, research, and education can help. But the most important step—and often the most difficult one—is to start talking about it.
Hiding In Plain Sight, a two-part, four-hour film, will begin that conversation. Through first-person accounts, the film will present an unvarnished window into the issues associated with mental illness and the seemingly insurmountable obstacles that those who live with it face daily. The film will confront the issues of stigma, discrimination, awareness, and silence, and, in doing so, help advance a major shift in the public perception of mental illness today.
Executive produced by Ken Burns, co-directed by Erik Ewers and Christopher Loren Ewers, produced by Julie Coffman, and written by David Blistein, Hiding in Plain Sight, the first film of Our Mental Health Crisis, is slated for broadcast on PBS in 2022. (4 hours)