Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Two Creative Messages About Mental Illness Premiering at Convention

by Michael J. Fitzpatrick, Executive Director

Documentary filmmaker Dr. Delaney Ruston and Irish singer-songwriter Susan McKeown use their creativity to deliver a powerful message—that mental illness is a universal concern that touches each person uniquely. Ruston’s film about her father’s life, Unlisted, and McKeown’s album, Singing in the Dark, are important to the NAMI community because they spread awareness about conditions like schizophrenia and depression. They also remind us that creativity is required by anyone whose life is touched by mental illness.

For many years, Ruston and her father were estranged. After their reconciliation, she used the filmmaking process as one way to overcome their mutual sense of isolation and to see him differently. For both of them it was a journey. The film premieres on PBS this fall during Mental Illness Awareness Week and will have a special screening at the NAMI Convention this week.

When the Grammy Award-winning musician Susan McKeown began working on Singing in the Dark, an exploration of depression in all its facets, she found few resources for music and depression. “Growing up in Dublin I was conscious of how the Irish were outstanding in global arts and creativity, especially in terms of literature and music,” said McKeown. “But I was also conscious of a huge stigma around the area of mental health and things that people weren't comfortable talking about in their families.” McKeown will perform on Saturday, July 3 at the convention awards dinner and samples of her music are available online.

Both Ruston and McKeown will be at the NAMI Convention this week, but so will many people living with mental illness and their families. These convention guests will share their perspectives at lectures, participate in workshops and sing at open mic night. In each of their actions they will reveal themselves to be creative people, people who find a way over, around or through whatever challenges fall in their path. We look forward to sharing all of these vibrant individuals’ contributions to the NAMI community with our Virtual Convention coverage.


Whippies said...

I am disppointed there were no replies last week to the topic of STIGMA. It is such an important topic that I am surprised it was skipped. Please reply - it was noticed.

Whippies said...

I am disppointed there were no replies last week to the topic of STIGMA. It is such an important topic that I am surprised it was skipped. Please reply - it was noticed.

Sarah said...

I have a Mom that is bipolar and she refuses to take her medication what should I do?

Whippies said...

It is disappointing that last weeks comments on STIGMA were not responded to. I had mentioned how the NAMI name is stigmatizing within itself. NAMI is a great organization and does so many good works, but the name is outdated.

I would tell more people about the support groups and work being done, but the National Association for Mental Illness might as well be the National Association for Crazy People.

NAMI is providing many presentations available to the media. PBS is a wonderful station. But NAMI would gain so much more coverage and recognition if it could present its programs on 20/20, Nightline, Dateline or 60 Minutes.

Thank you for all the presentations made available. It would be helpful to our cause if they could be shown on mainstream media channels.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Anonymous said...

The article "Beautiful Minds: Creativity and Mental Illness" in the June issue of the Advocate is extremely one-sided (and inaccurate). Inaccurate first because it carries a photo of a painting by Vincent Van Gogh, who is not mentioned in the article, rather than by Salvador Dali, who is mentioned. Inaccurate and misleading and one-sided because only schizophrenia is mentioned, whereas, in an annotated list I compiled on "Famous Mathematicians, Philosophers, Scientists, Artists (and Others) who Suffered from Neurological, Physiological, or Psychological Disorders", it is obvious that creative personalities through history wre not only those suffering or retrospectively diagnosed with only schizophrenia. The article also mentions mathematician and Nobel laureate in economics John Nash. As I wrote in "From My Vantage Point: John Nash (1928-): The Man, the Mathematician, the Movie, the Book", Part 1, Webster County Disabilities Alliance Recorder 5, no. 3 (August 2005), 3; Part 2, Webster County Disabilities Alliance Recorder 5, no. 4 (January 2006), 4. the persona portrayed of Nash to the public is largely a caracature, and rather than helping to present the effects of mental illness, ternds to confirm and enhance the stigma of the "nutty professor" and the "mad scientist".

Anonymous said...

Having a mental illness really does require allows the mind to create, produce, concentrate, and achieve some kind of meaningful goal. The problem is having outlets to share, sell, or publish these talented gifts...Having a reason to keep producing or developing these talents seem pointless. I have to be creative..and that will never change but how do I sell my jewelry, or publish my books? What is the next step? Where do I go from here? (