The best thing about the #MyMentalHealthStory campaign I launched in December of 2014 is I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people. In this interview, get to know filmmaker, Jeff Holiday. Here Jeff shares what inspired him to become a storyteller and how his family's experience with mental illness and suicide has shaped the making of his short film, Boulevard.
Mental illness in the United States of America is an ever-increasing issue that affects millions of individuals in various ways and to varying degrees of severity. While it's true that mental illness can sometimes be treated with great success, including the near eradication of symptoms in certain patients, sometimes symptoms are so debilitating that the individual in question is unable to work or otherwise provide for themselves. For these individuals, symptoms may never fully disappear.
Whenever anyone of us is diminished, we are all demeaned, when anyone or any group remains institutionally and socially stigmatized, marginalized, excluded, or disenfranchised, when violence comes down upon any of us, the possibility for authentic community cannot be realized unless and until we challenge it in truly transformational ways.
My mental illnesses are diseases, just like my cancer, and need to be treated in a similar way. If I, myself, can't share my story then it indicates that I also have stigma so I discuss my mental health issues openly just like I do anything else. I have found that when I share my story, I have an impact.