By Valerie Milano
Los Angeles, CA (The Hollywood Times) 12/8/23 – The Mental State unfolds a gripping story centered around Andy, whose suspicions of a potential town shooter lead him down an unexpected path. As he uncovers a hidden conspiracy linked to his love interest, viewers are taken on a journey through the struggles of a young man deeply impacted by personal tragedy. Andy’s erratic behavior at school becomes a focal point, highlighting the challenges his single mother, Angela, faces in finding affordable professional care and desperately needing assistance from their local church. The film skillfully navigates the complexities of mental health, providing audiences with a thought-provoking experience that culminates in a tragic event at the local high school. The Mental State invites viewers to empathize with the characters’ struggles, offering a poignant exploration of the human condition and the challenges of mental health in a small-town setting.
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As the title suggests, The Mental State addresses mental health themes with a pointed and urgent tone. Writer/director James Camali approached the script with meticulous care and thorough research, aiming to authentically portray the raw severity of mental health issues when left unaddressed. Camali expressed, “From a writing standpoint we were trying to really not specifically diagnose him ourselves because I am not a mental health professional. To have a character, specifically a mental health professional, misdiagnose Andy in the film was important because in the research that we did we found that many individuals had shared instances of being misdiagnosed. Like In the situation with Andy- which is a situation that happens often. Someone can be admitted and placed on a 72-hour hold. That’s only permitting that mental health evaluator 72 hours with someone to understand what they’re going through. To make a specific diagnoses like psychosis and the like is really hard for a mental health professional to do in such a short amount of time. So, what often happens is someone is misdiagnosed because in that short amount of time mental health and brain health is a tough thing to diagnose.”
The film does an exquisite job at also highlighting how social communities can help and even hinder the fight against mental health. Skilled actress Carly Pope expounds, “I definitely feel that Angela is at capacity of all the crises going on based on the loss of her husband to suicide, based on her own addiction, and now sobriety. She has absolutely devoted herself to the church because that became her lifeline. Church became her mode of community and therapy and salvation. I absolutely believe that Angela had become so self-focused, not in a cruel or malevolent way, but so self-focused for her own healing that she missed a lot of the queues.” Jance Enslin continues and adds, “The church can be a band aid for a lack of material resources because of the idea that ‘Gods love is free.’ So maybe you cannot buy clothes, but maybe you can ‘pray it away’ at church instead.”
The Mental State stands as a thought-provoking testament to the intricacies of the human condition, urging audiences to reflect on the power and limitations of communal support in the face of mental health challenges, as well as the limitations in our healthcare industries in our evolving society. Check local listings to experience this captivating film!