MHA shows documentary ‘Unlisted’ Thursday

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Mental Health America in Wilson County will screen the award-winning documentary “Unlisted: A Story of Schizophrenia,” in the Wilson Medical Center’s auditorium at 7 p.m. Thursday.

A panel of local mental health experts will discuss the documentary and answer questions immediately following the screening.

“Unlisted: A Story Of Schizophrenia” was named most compelling documentary at Seattle’s True Independent Film Festival and was featured at the national conferences of Mental Health America and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The one-hour film premiered on PBS nationwide in 2010.

“Unlisted” gives a moving first-person account of producer/director Delaney Ruston’s relationship with her father as she faces the emotionally wrenching effects of his illness in the past and the present.

For many years, physician and filmmaker Delaney Ruston was estranged from her father, Richard, a poet and novelist who struggled with schizophrenia and at times lived on the streets. Feeling helpless whenever he showed up at her door in psychotic states, she decided to become unlisted in the phone book.

Medical school taught Ruston about the science of mental illness, but not the actual experience of people living with it. She reached a turning point when her son started asking about his grandpa. When Delaney reconnects with her father he is doing well, in supportive housing and on treatment. What starts as a gripping story of reconciliation suddenly shifts when Richard stops his medicine and goes missing.

“Severe mental illness can tear families apart, but not for the reasons people commonly think of,” Ruston said. “Yes, the symptoms can be difficult, but what often tears families apart is the difficulty in getting services and treatment.”

“I was initially motivated to make ‘Unlisted’ by this political reality but soon realized it was for more personal reasons that I kept going,” Ruston added.

The documentary screening is free and open to the public. For more information, call 252-243-2773.

Mental Health America in Wilson County, formerly known as the Mental Health Association — Wilson County, educates the public about mental illness and wellness, advocates for Wilson’s mentally ill and supports community efforts to detect, diagnose and treat mental illness.

Mental Health America in Wilson County is a United Way of Wilson County agency.