“Lift the Mask” on mental illness

Mental health advocacy organization, The Quell Foundation, along with NSU’s Marriage and Family Therapy Department will screen the documentary “Lift the Mask: Portraits of Life with Mental Illness” on Wednesday, Oct. 16 from 6 – 8 p.m. The screening will take place at the Knight Auditorium in the Huizenga School of Business, and participants from The Quell Foundation will hold an open discussion panel directly after the film. 


The Quell Foundation made “Lift the Mask” in alignment with its mission to “reduce the number of suicides, overdoses and incarcerations of people with mental illness,” as provided by its website. Moreover, professor of family therapy, Shelly Green, added that the foundation made the documentary in hopes of illustrating genuine stories of those living with mental illness — showing how it profoundly affects each individual’s life. 


“Lift the Mask” accomplishes its goal of “raising awareness of sensitivity and understanding of the complex nature of what people’s struggles” through “the emotional honesty that the people in the film demonstrate so profoundly,” said Green. It also works to address and correct common misconceptions about mental illness. According to Green, the most common belief is that people with mental health issues are unable to function in professional, academic and even social settings. 


The continuation of this stigma, which Green described as “anything that minimizes people’s ability to thrive,” is a huge obstacle for those with mental illness when it comes to getting and holding jobs. The Quell Foundation also conducts outreach for different facilities and businesses to reduce the trying impact of these negative beliefs.


The documentary also addresses stigma on a more personal level, particulary in terms of suicide. In the film, one of the individuals talks openly with a loved one about his suicidal tendencies, and Green noted this point as an “aha” moments for audience members. “People realize these conversations [about suicide] that are taboo, that we don’t want to have, are the very conversations that we need to have. Often, we want to minimize and reassure people, but that kind of [rhetoric] can leave people feeling unheard.”


Green shared that previous audiences have had strong emotional reactions to the film, especially in regards to the part previously discussed, but said, “sometimes we have to push past our comfort zone to get understanding, so I appreciate that the filmmakers pushed it to that level.


Indeed, understanding is especially important when one considers Kevin Lynch, The Quell Foundation’s founder, shared at a previous event, “we could fill the Don Taft University Center (UC) Performance Theatre several times over with NSU students struggling with suicidal thoughts and mental illness.”


Additionally, Green added that previous reception has not included many undergraduate students and heavily encourages them to come, especially since many undergraduate students already struggle with or develop mental health issues upon entering college, which can exacerbate mental stress and related issues.

In the past, the event has filled up quickly, leaving only standing space, so those interested are encouraged to register soon at www.eventbrite.com/e/lift-the-mask-screening-tickets-73037285487.

Sourced: C. Franco


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