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Program description
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Caption: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer (L) and Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist Dr. Eric Kandel wrestle with how to effectively reach out to someone with mental illness in MINDS ON THE EDGE: Facing Mental Illness, premiering on PBS stations in October.
Caption: Dr. Fred Frese, a psychologist who was diagnosed more than 40 years ago with schizophrenia, discusses how to help people with mental illness in MINDS ON THE EDGE: Facing Mental Illness, premiering on PBS stations in October.
Caption: Dr. Tracey Skale, medical director of an innovative clinic in Ohio, and Estelle Richman, Secretary of Public Welfare in Pennsylvania, discuss the consequences of a badly broken mental health system in MINDS ON THE EDGE: Facing Mental Illness, premiering on PBS stations in October.
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Program Description
MINDS ON THE EDGE: Facing Mental Illness connects the dots between personal dilemmas facing individuals and families who are living with mental illness, medical practices that can be obstacles to treatment, and public policies that all too often fall short in providing support that could make a positive difference.

The one-hour television program zeros in on wrenching and confounding situations that are playing out every day in homes and hospital ERs, on city streets and school campuses, in courtrooms and in jails, as Americans struggle with the challenges of severe mental illness.

Produced for PBS by the Fred Friendly Seminars using their signature format of a hypothetical scenario, the program considers the case of a college student who develops mental illness while at school. Her professor knows something is wrong, but is unsure how to approach her and whether it is even legal to contact her parents. Upset and confused when they see their daughter, her parents do not know where to turn and are shocked to discover how limited their options are when they try to seek medical help.

The program also explores the circumstances of an adult who has coped with his mental illness until his mother dies, and then he is left without critical support. As his mental health unravels, and he is unable to get treatment or maintain his home, he is arrested for a minor crime and absorbed into the criminal justice system. For him it is the beginning of a merry-go-round of homelessness and jail that has become all too common for many individuals who are living with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other severe mental illnesses.

Moderator Frank Sesno, unfolds this story and asks the program panelists to put themselves in the shoes of these hypothetical characters and talk about what they would do if faced with this situation. The distinguished panel includes US Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, Noble Prize winning neurologist Eric Kandel, along with attorneys, doctor, legislators and other experts in the field. Several of the panelists have personal, as well as professional experience, in living with mental illness.