Piece of Mind about mental illness
Why Make This Documentary?
The social justice documentary PIECE OF MIND follows Linda in her unrelenting efforts to get psychiatric care for her 38 year old son, Jesse, with schizophrenia, Patricia and Frances, were flabbergasted when their sister, Teresa, diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, was shot at age 56 by police and lived, prompting a suit for compensation, which boomerangs from District Court, to U.S. Supreme Court, then back to District Court, contrasted by Jeff, living with bipolar disorder, whose suicide attempt leads to a positive encounter with police and transformative healing. Interwoven with their three year journey are insights from Dr. Paul Linde, ER psychiatrist, embellished with paintbrush-in-motion watercolors. These compelling and moving chronicles of the struggle for treatment and normalcy for loved ones in a broken mental health care system reveal solutions and the possibility of hope.
Serious mental illness is a public health crisis cloaked in shame and plastered across the headlines. The documentary Piece of Mind addresses the urgency for care of marginalized persons languishing in jails, living on the streets and with family members, who are determined to get treatment for their loved one in a broken mental health care system. Please support stories of struggle and hope in mental illness now. Be a Partner for Change to tell this important story.
Who Am I?
My sister lives with schizophrenia. The agonizing powerlessness I felt, when I was blocked from getting for her treatment due the HIPAA privacy law, and the many stories I heard in the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) San Francisco support groups inspired me to make a documentary that explores the struggles of families seeking treatment for their loved one and persons living with serious mental illness to navigate a broken mental health care, and to explore solutions. The health care system readily supports children and adults with developmental disabilities and autism brain disorders. And now we need the same comprehensive services for persons living with serious mental illness.
I am the filmmaker for Piece of Mind. This is my third documentary. I make films about issues that touch me deeply with the intent to give voice to marginalized women, men and children. My second documentary is the Emmy-nominated film On Life’s Terms: Mothers in Recovery, about five women in a residential treatment program that helps mothers learn recovery and parenting skills while having their children with them, currently airing on public television. My first documentary Unlocking the Heart of Adoption, about the lifelong process of adoption for adoptees, first/birthparents and adoptive parents in same race and transracial adoptions interwoven with my story of unwillingly relinquishing my daughter for adoption in 1969, and illuminating historical background, aired on public television and Documentary Channel, recipient Congressional Coalition on Adoption Angels in Adoption Award.
About the Film
In the multi-layered stories in Piece of Mind we meet:
Linda first noticed something was wrong with her son, Jesse, at age two, when he was seeing faces come out of a mop hanging on the wall. Trouble in school leads to hospitalization for a week. He lived in his car for seven years. AOT, Assisted Outpatient Treatment gets him an apartment. At 38 he is about to be evicted because it’s unlivable. He is endangering himself with poisons. Linda is afraid for Jesse. They won’t give her any information, because of the HIPAA privacy law. Linda explains, “underneath this illness is a sweet gentle person who wants to work.” Linda’s religious faith keeps her going.
Patricia older sister of Teresa
Frances younger sister of Teresa
We see photographs of Teresa in the Trailer. Teresa does not want to talk to her sisters about what happened at college when she left unexpectedly. Some time after that, schizoaffective disorder first manifested in uncharacteristic behaviors and yelling incoherently. Patricia and Frances, Japanese American, recall the shock when their sister, Teresa is shot seven times by police. Frances becomes Teresa’s advocate and sues the City and County of San Francsico for compensation under the Americans With Disabilities Act. The case goes to the U.S. Supreme Court and is sent back to the District Court. We follow their ongoing struggle to help Teresa.
Later in the film we meet Kleigh Hathaway, Teresa’s Public Defender, who reveals key points about the shooting and trial. Teresa, 56, was living in a single room occupancy in San Francisco. Her social worker called for help to bring her to the hospital, stating she was "gravely disabled." When two female officers arrived, Teresa refused to leave and picked up a bread knife. The officers did not wait for back up and shot her seven times. Miraculously, Teresa survived. Kleigh defends Teresa in a four week trial.
Jeff lives with bipolar disorder. He attempted suicide after being laid off from work and could not find another job at age 53. Friends call the police before he tries again. Jeff’s encounter with the police is non-confrontational. They take him to a psychiatric hospital where he takes medication for the first time. This works for him almost immediately. He goes on to lead a bipolar support group and speak at Crisis Intervention Trainings for police officers.
Dr. Paul Linde, ER psychiatrist for 24 years at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, reveals that many persons diagnosed as "gravely disabled" also have anosognosia. This is a condition where the person is not aware that they are living with a mental illness. Hospital policies limit treatment for these individuals. It is not considered cost effective.
Throughout the film watercolor paintbrush-in-motion illustrate the delusions and fears of Jesse and Teresa. My background is in the visual arts. I began my artistic career as a painter and sculptor. I attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and have an MA in Interdisciplinary Arts, San Francisco State University. I create the artwork.
Who Will Benefit
The stories in Piece of Mind will inspire compassion and promote solutions for this public health crisis including increased inpatient psychiatric beds and Assisted Outpatient Treatment, such as Laura’s Law in California and Kendra’s Law in New York, for persons living with serious mental illness, relaxing of the HIPAA privacy law to include concerned family members and care givers, and de-escalation training for police officers nationwide.
This timely film will benefit public health providers, law enforcement, dispatchers, correctional staff, psychiatrists, judges, public defenders, DAs, nurses, case managers, peers, suicide prevention professionals, first responders, families and neighbors. Upon completion of the film, community screening events will have panel discussions with people with lived experiences, and advocates and researchers and will inspire others to speak out. We will seek public television broadcast of the film. Piece of Mind will be part of the grassroots movement to catalyze national interest, discussion and action for a mental health care system that works for all persons living with serious mental illness. The need is great. The time is now.
Your Generous Donation Now
Your generous donation now will help the film take a giant step forward toward completion. So far, we have introductory interviews with the people in the film and edited four trailers and longer samples for grant proposals. Your donation will allow us to follow activities in their daily lives and do more in depth interviews on their challenges and successes, plus editing over three months. The $10,000 in funding pays for:
- Camera person and equipment for six days of filming.
- Continue to edit the footage for the rough-cut stage.
- Create more artwork as appropriate to illustrate the thoughts and feelings of the people in the film.
Your Support Is Much Appreciated
Be A Partner for Change for families and their loved ones living with serious mental illness. Every dollar you donate now will support the next stage of completion. Our goal is to launch the film in 2019. Select your Rewards. Donations on this GoFundMe fundraiser are not tax-deductible. You can make a tax-deductible donation in any amount through Piece of Mind’s non-profit fiscal sponsor San Francisco Film Society website here: Donate . More information is on the film’s website. If you prefer your donation to be anonymous, we will respect your right to privacy, forever.
My Heartfelt Gratitude
Thank you so much for making a generous donation in any amount now toward completion of the documentary Piece of Mind! I hope you enjoy the rewards offered for your support. This is my third documentary. I know from personal experience that film's change people's lives. Some times in ways that surprise me. I am certain that Piece of Mind will make a difference. Your support right now means everything. One thing that grabs my heart when I watch my films, besides my undying gratitude and admiration to the people in the film for their courage in telling their story, is the list of people in the credits. The credits fill my heart with love for everyone listed and can bring a tear to my eye. Without You – there would be no film. Thank you for being a Partner to bring these moving personal stories to the world to inspire hope and action for change!
All my best,
I hope you are doing well. May is Mental Health Month and I am re-launching this GoFundMe fundraiser with a new video introduction by me and trailer. Take a look and please share with your friends. https://www.gofundme.com/pieceofmindfilm
Thank you so much for helping to end the stigma around serious mental illness with your generous support to complete the documentary Piece of Mind! This compelling film tells the story from the points-of-view of Frances and Patricia whose sister, Teresa, diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, was shot by police and lived, Jeff living with bipolar disorder whose positive encounter with police transformed his life, and Linda desperate to save her son, Jesse, who lives with schizophrenia. Your donation has enabled us to do more filming, research, edit a 15 minute work sample and write grant proposals for major funding. We are continuing to seek funds to take the film to the next stage of completion in 2019.
All my best,
You haven’t heard from me in a while, because I have been busy editing a 15 minute work sample and writing grant proposals. It’s a full time job. Foundation grants are highly competitive, which is why I am still doing crowdfunding with GoFundMe: https://www.gofundme.com/pieceofmindfilm.
Please take 5 minutes to watch the new trailer. Share with your friends. And if you are so inclined make a donation toward completion of the film.
Thank you so much for your support! It means a lot to me!
Wishing you All the Best!