Friday, June 20, 2014

Film Festival Fights Stigma by Dan Frey

Film Festival Fights Stigma
By Dan Frey
The 10th Annual Mental Health Film Festival ran its course this past weekend, May 17 and 18, tackling stigma with positive depictions of the mental health community. Co-sponsored by Community Access and the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS), the festival's theme this year was hospitalization and its alternatives. In the wake of New York State's plans to reduce psychiatric hospital beds and better fund community-based alternatives, it's a subject with wide implications for our society as a whole.
Said festival organizer Carla Rabinowitz of Community Access, “Hospital stays are not a panacea. They often traumatize mental health recipients and are exorbitantly expensive. Proven alternatives including supportive housing, therapy, crisis respite care and the support of family and friends are all more effective responses to psychiatric symptoms.”
This one-of-a-kind event featured films, filmmaker panels and live audience discussions. Among the films presented were:
Kings Park: Thirty years after her commitment to the violent ward of Kings Park State Hospital, filmmaker Lucy Winer returns to the now-abandoned institution that once held her captive;
Technically Crazy: A comedy about the power of friendship between a teen struggling with his mental health condition and a grieving former police officer;
Coming Off Psych Drugs: A group of mental health leaders discuss how they have successfully tapered off of psychiatric medications through peer support and focusing on their mental health in a holistic manner;
A Sister's Call: One woman struggles to balance her marital family unit with efforts to keep her adult brother at home with her despite his disabilities.

For more information on future Film Festivals, please contact Carla Rabinowitz at

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