In ‘Shattered Families: the Collapse of America’s Mental Health System‘ Stephen Seager accompanied by his family starts a war against the crooked mental health system America provides today. The whole story is put in comparison with how the whole system worked in the past, more precisely in the mid 20th century and how it is now. Quoting Seager’s words, “in 1959 there were 350,000 Americans with serious mental illness all getting treatment in hospitals. The word “homeless mentally ill” didn’t exist. No mentally ill persons were in jail or prison.” whereas today „there are 350,000 sick persons rotting on our urban streets. 1.2 million Mentally sick people languish in our jails and prisons. There is a mass shooting every day.” Through this documentary, Seager tries to change the whole mental health system, offering precious solutions to this problem.
A documentary of this kind is most of all emotional and rarely do people comment upon the techniques used in its making. So, in terms of technicalities this movie is good. The score is good, adequate for this subject and it was chosen to foreground the emotional part this movie has to offer. Also, the insertion of explanatory photos has the same goal, to highlight the emotional part which stands out before anyhting else.
This kind of documentary is mostly meant to transmit a message to the population, but unfortunately has no much artistic quality. As we see it, documentaries involving cases like these ones might not be suitable for some film festivals, and should be rather presented in social campaigns. In a film festival some are seeking other qualities in the movies they receive and the emotional impact caused by a case that is meant for the news or special programmes is not their only interest.
However, Stephen Seager makes a good statement through ‘Shattered Families: the Collapse of America’s Mental Health System’ and this should definitely be broadcasted over the news channels or special programmes to raise awareness over this issue and to make the audience empathize with this subject as the matters approached in the film are of world-wide concern. Maybe, in this way, in a couple of years, significant changes will happen and our kids will not have to cope with the problems we’re still encountering. A very concise documentary with a very convincing perception!