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Stephen Seager M.D.
Stephen Seager M.D.

Shattered Families: Collapse of our Mental Health System

1.3 million sick persons in prison, 350,00 homeless

My name is Stephen Seager MD. I have been a psychiatrist for twenty-five years and have worked extensively with the seriously mentally ill (SMI). Recently, I wrote a book, "Behind the Gates of Gomorrah, a Year with the Criminally Insane," and while doing publicity for this book, I came in contact with many families of persons with SMI. Listening to them and recalling my own experience, it quickly became apparent that whatever national mental health system once existed, has now totally collapsed. Where once we offered treatment, patients with SMI now suffer unspeakable degradation as their families endure intolerable pain and indignity trying and failing to get needed medical care for their disastrously sick children.

Seeking treatment, families and patient's face federal and state laws that actively deny sick people care. They face a system that supports homelessness and encourages treatment refusal. Today, 1,300,000 persons with SMI languish in prison - often in solitary confinement. Often in prisons run by companies whose profits depend on incarcerating more and more mentally ill persons. 350,000 persons with SMI rot on our urban streets. Many are shot by police. Most die 20 years sooner than expected. And their families must stand by helplessly and watch this happen.

This must change. We can build a system that provides medical treatment, housing, compassion and care. We can stop the suffering and indignity. We can stop the shootings. The pointless and degrading mass incarcerations. The disease and death.

Shattered Families will also propose solutions for our national nightmare. For solutions do exist. Solutions of which we can all be a part.

That's where you come in. Nothing changes minds, educates and motivates like a movie. And "Shattered Families" will be a movie like no other. It will be a movie to which families can turn and say, "Watch this. This is what I've been talking about. This is what I've been trying to tell you."

This is where your contributions will go. To produce a movie that will change minds and hearts and - we fully believe - lead to a change in our mental health laws, and a fundamental change in how we care for persons in our country with SMI. We are asking for 20,000 dollars but we could use more. The money will be spent for first-class, post-production editing and then national publicity and film festival entires. This is where eyeballs will meet the screen.

Making a first rate movie is expensive. National publicity for a first-rate movie is expensive. Changing minds and laws is expensive. But we start here. Many people complain about America's mental health system. Here is something concrete that everyone who has a mentally ill relative, friend, or who cares about this subject, can do. Something you can get behind and become a part of. This will be your movie. Your concern. Your action. Please take that action. Please contribute. "Shattered Families" will happen. We are entering the Sundance Film Festival as well as many others. We will show the film around the country or the world if we can raise the needed funds. "Shattered Families" will matter. Let's make it matter a lot. Send something. Big or small. Make a difference. It's the least we owe those persons who suffer with SMI and their families.

We are a better people. A better country. We can do the right thing. Please help make things different. Share this message with your friends and family. Use IndieGoGo Share tools. Tell everyone you know. Make some noise. If we do nothing, nothing will change.

And nothing makes noise like a movie. Please visit our fund-raising campaign at Any contribution - large or small - is greatly appreciated. For a contribution larger than $100, we will send you an autographed picture of our cast and crew. For any contribution, your name, or the name of a loved one, will be mentioned in the closing credits...Thank you

About the Author
Stephen Seager M.D.

Stephen Seager, M.D., is a psychiatrist and the author of Behind the Gates of Gomorrah: Living with the Criminally Insane.