CHANGING MINDS: THE INSIDE STORY
3 X 1 HOUR | 2015 | PRODUCED FOR ABC TV
Following on from the critical acclaim of series one, Changing Minds: The Inside Story journeys with mentally ill patients on their road to recovery, from breaking point to breakthrough.
This second series emphasises the plight of younger patients, aged 18 and over, who are most at risk of developing mental illness.
Psychiatrist Dr Mark Cross: This is a specifically vulnerable group, this is where the majority of mental illnesses start. So therefore this is of vital importance, we have to get it right in this age group.
Raw and emotional, profound and at times funny, the three-part series is an intimate observation of daily life in the locked mental health units of Sydneys Campbelltown Hospital and in the homes of patients cared for by community mental health teams.
The series follows ten characters whose mental illnesses do not discriminate in age or social standing. They include Nicholas (aged 18), a bullied schoolboy who relieves his anxiety by self-harming; Daniel (20) whose cannabis addiction is masking psychotic symptoms; Taileah (20), a recently graduated nurse whose stress manifests in distressing auditory hallucinations; Nathan (24) whose schizophrenia allows him to chat with Hitler and Muhammad Ali; Joel (18), a rebellious teenager struggling with a tragic past; Fabrice (36), a barristers son with persecutory delusions about demons and devils; and David (47) who believes hes Elvis Presley.
All the patients agreed to be filmed whilst unwell, and formally consented again when recovered, both times with the discretion and agreement of their psychiatrists.
Broadcast over three consecutive nights during Mental Health Week, the series explores: the vulnerability of young people and the importance of managing mental illness as early as possible; what its like to be held against your will, under the law, in a locked ward; the challenge of treating patients diagnosed with mental illness who have no insight into their condition; the impact of drugs and alcohol on mental health; and the support role of families, who also struggle with the negative stereotypes of mental illness.
An often-quoted statistic is that one-in-four Australians has experienced or will experience mental illness. Dr Mark Cross believes that figure is significantly higher: If you include mental disorder, drugs and alcohol, mental distress, emotional distress through somebodys lifetime, actually its almost one-in-two, if you look at all those other factors.
Yet despite the prevalence of mental illness in Australia, theres still a great deal of stigma attached to it. Both patients and families report they feel the stigma is often more worrying than the symptoms of mental illness itself, and negative, stereotyped depictions can make their lives even harder.*
Dr Mark Cross: Id love there to be a society in the future, in Australia, where theres no stigma against mental illness.
By following the treating teams in Campbelltown Hospitals Mental Health Unit, taboos are challenged, stigmas attacked. Its sometimes uncomfortable viewing, but the message is clear help is available, mental illness is treatable.
How will your mind change?