I urge everyone to see the just released beautiful and moving short film My Only Son. The hope of the filmmaker is that it focuses discussion on issues surrounding someone with mental health problems and how they struggle to find help.
I have written before about how this film came to be made by Jonathan Looper who wrote the screenplay and stars in the film about his childhood friend who opened up to him about his life and diagnosis of schizophrenia. He shared with Jonathan the impact that had on his life and all those around him and trusted Jonathan to tell his story. The final cut, directed by Geoffroy Faugerolas, shows his trust wasn't misplaced.
Today because of some horrific shootings across the nation we are once again beginning to discuss the impact that the unmet needs of those with mental health issues has on society. There is still a stigma attached to discussing mental health issues and being labeled as someone with mental health problems. Since the Ronald Reagan administration in the early '80s when we closed nearly all community mental health centers the public face of the mental health problem is often those living on the streets, maybe in a cardboard box and possibly talking to themselves, in every city of the nation. Those individuals who we pass every day and think to ourselves, "They need help" but there is nowhere they can get it.
Because of these recent shootings that image is beginning to change and we are being forced to face the fact that a mentally ill person can be living in an upper middle-class home, have a seemingly good life, and yet not be getting the help they desperately need. From the shootings in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado; Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut; and the Navy Yard in Washington D.C.; we know each of the perpetrators of those acts had mental health issues which even though obvious to many, some even asked for help, didn't have their problems adequately addressed. So it is clear that we need to keep the discussion about mental health in the public eye if we are going to work to take the stigma out of asking for help and once a person asks for it making sure it is available.
When doing research before filming Jonathan spoke with psychologists and found out that it isn't always easy for the people closest to the person needing help to recognize it. He asked one psychologist why it was that his friend's mother who studied psychology would not even consider that her son had a mental illness. She told him, "While her profession may be in psychology, she is "not a psychologist to [her] child;" that even a psychologist is human and subject to the same emotional responses (devastation, fear, denial, etc...) as any other parent whose child is going through something like this." So there needs to be more outreach to families and work to develop a public compassion rather than scorn or disinterest in what is going on in our community and even our neighbor's house.
Jonathan was able to make this film because he convinced others of its importance and the impact it could have on so many people suffering from mental illness and their families. He was fortunate that most of the cast and crew donated their time or worked for little compensation. Equipment and locations were donated or gotten at greatly reduced rates. Because of how powerful this short film is there is now interest in turning this film into a feature-length movie.
Jonathan is working with others to raise the funds to take this short and turn it into a feature film with the working title "Light Wounds". It will continue to focus on Dustin, Jonathan's childhood friend and a returning veteran, whose story is the basis for My Only Son. Dustin has said he wants to have this feature film made to share his story with as many people as possible to help promote understanding and "a little more humanity in this world".
I think Dustin is a brave young man to have faced his issues and now wanting to share his struggles with others. I applaud Jonathan for his efforts and would urge anyone who can to support the making of "Light Wounds."
To find out more about this film click on Light Wounds.