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.