Opinion: A conversation on Mental Health

On Tuesday night, May 3, The Community Fund of Darien and the Darien Library, hosted a screening of the feature film No Letting Go, the story of a family coming to terms with the mental illness of a child. More than a hundred people attended the event.

Writer and producer Randi Silverman was on hand to answer questions and talk about her reasons for making the movie. The story draws on her experience in raising a child with bipolar disorder while struggling to hold her family together in the face of social disapproval and imperfect mental health and educational systems.

The film has several dramatic moments but it does not indulge in the typical Hollywood exploitation of mental illness. Nor does it succumb to the opposite impulse to make heroes out of ordinary people struggling with problems that can affect as many as one in four Americans. Instead, it shows what happens in a family when mental illness strikes: for the child – changes in behavior and avoidance of school and former pastimes; for the parents – ostracizing by former friends and ineffective “help” from some condescending professionals and educators; and for the family – damage to family relationships as sibling tensions mount and spouses polarize. For many in the audience these points hit home with an obvious impact of lived experience.

In the Q & A session after the movie, Silverman stated that she made No Letting Go to inspire community dialogue. The Community Fund of Darien, the Darien Library and Ms. Silverman succeeded in doing just that. No Letting Go is the kind of movie that leads to conversations such as “I know exactly what that feels like,” or “My in-laws need to see that movie. Maybe then they’d understand.” The many families like the Silvermans in our midst need our support and understanding, not judging.

With No Letting Go Randi Silverman has turned what some parents might have hidden from sight as an embarrassing private tragedy into a public catalyst for vital conversations in communities like Darien. That is exactly what happened Tuesday night. We are grateful to The Community Fund of Darien and to the Darien Library for starting this important conversation and for inviting Laurel House to be a part of it.

Linda M. Autore, President and CEO, Laurel House, Inc.

Jay Boll, Vice President, Laurel House, Inc. and Editor-in-Chief www.rtor.org

Laurel House helps individuals and their families achieve and sustain mental health recovery. 

It serves the towns of Darien, Greenwich, Stamford, New Canaan, Norwalk, Weston, Westport and Wilton.