National Alliance on Mental Illness
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Special Convention Event

PBS Documentary on NAMI’s History to be Screened

When NAMI celebrates its 30th anniversary at its national convention in San Francisco, July 6-9, 2009, one special event will be the screening of a documentary about NAMI’s roots in nearby San Mateo County, several years before NAMI’s founding as a national organization in 1979.

When Medicine Got it Wrong is the groundbreaking story of loving parents who rocked the halls of psychiatry, rebelling against then-popular psychiatric theories that blamed schizophrenia on bad parenting. Their activism helped revolutionize treatment, and the stories of three families reveal the origins of the tragic state of mental health care today.

Produced by Katie Cadigan, the film is expected to be broadcast nationally on PBS in fall 2009, but you can be among those to see it first—by attending the convention. Cadigan’s parents were once church activists against apartheid in South Africa, until the ruling regime kicked them out of the country.

Her brother, John, lives with schizophrenia.

“Having lived as a child under a cruel political regime that believed it was ‘right,’ I am fascinated by the ways that falsehoods embraced by society are perpetuated and ultimately overthrown,” Cadigan said in an interview with the California Council on the Humanities.

“When dramatic scientific advances in medicine occur, there is no opportunity for doctors to go back to all the families and patients they’d misinformed and say ‘Sorry, we were 100 percent wrong.’ With regard to schizophrenia, medicine’s error ripped apart millions of families and condemned them to live in shame and stigma.”

Cadigan hopes the film will inspire people “to evaluate our collective responsibility toward treating and caring for those among us with severe mental illness...The film will be a success if it sparks dialogue about the current state of our mental healthcare system.”

Be part of the dialogue. Join NAMI this summer at the San Francisco convention for a special screening When Medicine Got It Wrong, and much, much more.