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.