Video web series breaks stigma of mental illness

By KBJR News 1

March 3, 2014 Updated Mar 3, 2014 at 10:32 PM CDT

Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- There's a new effort underway in Duluth to break the stigma of mental illness.

The Human Development Center in Duluth is partnering with area filmmakers to produce a 12-part video series.

They hope the project will start an important dialogue.

Experts say mental illness no different than any other illness, yet it gets treated so differently.

"We wouldn't think twice about talking about somebody who got the flu, or sharing a story about our parent or sibling who died of cancer, but things related to mental illness cause everyone to twist their thinking around, and it's a taboo," said Paul Damberg, foundation director at HDC.

In a new web series called CallMeMental.com, videos chronicle individuals who've encountered a variety of mental health problems and their road to recovery.

"We really feel grateful that people are willing to share these stories with us. Sometimes the interviews will last four hours without us asking questions. They're just ready to tell their stories and so that's pretty special to be on the other side of the camera and get to record that," said Joe Olivieri, a co-producer of the project.

The series is designed to help de-stigmatize the false perceptions society holds about mental health.

"The goal is to get people to feel more comfortable and for people to realize this is a story we need to share, and there's nothing to be ashamed about," said Damberg.

Carolyn Phelps, who provides clinical expertise throughout the project, says the stigma surrounding mental illness decreases a person's ability to seek help for their problems.

She hopes this project will act as a door opener to start conversations about mental illness.

"It creates an access to getting help and help really is the means for recovery, and recovery brings with it the life of hope and the message of hope," said Phelps.

... all to spread the message that with help comes hope.

A Kickstarter campaign for Call Me Mental raised over $10,000 dollars for the project, which funded the early episodes of the series.

The project needs additional financial support to finish producing all 12 episodes.

Elsa Robins