Film and TV

Tonight: Healing Voices Doc Challenges "Medical Model" of Mental Illness

As a society, we like to think we've come a long way in the treatment of serious and chronic mental disorders over the last couple of decades. But much of the social stigma associated with being labeled as "mentally ill" remains, and advocates who want patients to have a stronger voice in their own care are trying to do something about that.  A new documentary, premiering today in more than a hundred cities, is a significant milestone in that campaign. 

Directed by PJ Moynihan, Healing Voices  follows three people who experience "extreme mental states" over a five-year period, as they struggle to integrate their condition into their lives and resist the notion that they are merely "suffering" from an incurable disease. Featuring interviews with a range of experts as well, the film is in part a revisionist approach to the history of psychiatry and the rise of a pharmaceutical solution to just about everything. As author Robert Whitaker, a leading critic of antipsychotic drugs, notes in the film, "What we're really treating is sort of our own desire to be safe."

Locally, Healing Voices screens at the auditorium of the State Mental Institute at Fort Logan, 3520 West Oxford Avenue, at 6:30 p.m. tonight, Friday, April 29.  Doors open at 6 p.m. and admission is free, though donations are being accepted to benefit the Colorado chapter of the Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health. Food and drinks will be available for purchase, and a lively Q & A discussion is expected to follow the film. 

Here's a teaser. 

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast