Real Talk About Mental Illness: 4 Firsthand Docs to Watch
Real Talk About Mental Illness: 4 Firsthand Docs to Watch

The first week of May marks the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week. One in five Canadians will be diagnosed with a mental illness during their lifetimes and this is a great time to highlight some of the issues and talk about them. 

CBC's Firsthand has aired four films that delve into the reality of mental illness. Learn more about these captivating stories.

Lost on Arrival: Me, the Mounties & PTSD 

The story: After years as a CBC News reporter,  heading into natural disasters, wars and wreckage to get the story, something shook loose in Curt Petrovich. When he came home after reporting on the devastating 2013 typhoon in the Philippines, he was a different person – a stranger in his own home.  

What you’ll see: An in-depth self-portrait as Petrovich copes with his debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder.  He also investigates the role that PTSD played in the testimony of the Mounties charged in the death of Robert Dziekanski in October 2007 at the Vancouver airport.

Watch the full film: Lost on Arrival: Me, the Mounties & PTSD

Bonus content: 10 Ways To Help Someone You Care About With PTSD

Being Greene

The story: The Greenes are a fun-loving family of performers with a secret: they all suffer from mental illnesses. Dave, the dad, is a hoarder. Roxie, the mom, has a long history with unipolar depressive disorder. Kane, the brother, has anxiety and suicidal thoughts and Quinn, the other brother, takes care of them all. Through the documentary, the family decides to break the silence hoping to spark a national conversation about mental illness.

What you’ll see: An intimate, emotionally charged portrait of a family struggling to break free from the clutches of mental illness and build a better, happier future.

Watch the full film: Being Greene

Bonus content: How To Help Family And Friends Cope With Mental Illness

Hold Your Fire

The story: People in mental health crisis account for 40% of civilian shooting deaths by police. Police are confronted with people who are mental health issues on the job often but aren’t adequately trained on how to deal with them. Three families who lost their sons in police shootings reveal how their tragedies might have been avoided.

What you’ll see: A closer look at how shootings like this — from Sammy Yatim to Michael MacIsacc — happen. In the search for solutions, researchers study what happens in the moments before a shooting, what approach other countries around the world are taking and how new training for cops may help.

Watch the full film: Hold Your Fire

Bonus content: Top 10 Ways To Help A Stranger In Mental Health Crisis

Not Criminally Responsible: Wedding Secrets

The story: In 1999, Sean Clifton stabbed a complete stranger, Julie Bouvier, six times in a crowded shopping mall. At the time he was in a psychotic state. The 2013 documentary Not Criminally Responsible follows him as he applies for absolute discharge. In the update, Wedding Secrets,  three years later, both Clifton and Bouvier are invited to attend the same wedding. He wants to apologize in person and she, after having advocated for him for 17 years, is nervous about meeting her attacker face to face for the first time.

What you’ll see: The award-winning documentarian behind the camera, John Kastner, hopes Sean’s story will help end the stigma around people found not criminally responsible. His film puts real face to the NCR designation and shows how a community and even the victims’ family have the power to forgive.

Watch the full film: Not Criminally Responsible: Wedding Secrets

Bonus content: Canadian Study Yields Surprising Insights About People Found Not Criminally Responsible


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