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Psychiatry Newsletter - Films Could Turn Night to Day
Films Could Turn Night to Day
Date: October 12, 2010
Roddy Dart had just celebrated his 22nd birthday early in 1997. A “much adored, strong-minded young man and great fun besides,” his mother says, Dart was a gifted writer at his young age. He’d just begun to resume life as a college student after a hospitalization confirmed bipolar disorder and the idea of coping with the illness was sinking in.
A freak fall, however, ended Roddy’s life. It also started a search by Hailey Dart, his mother, with backing from family and friends, to make a fitting memorial. Several projects caught her eye. But it was reading An Unquiet Mind—Kay Jamison’s description of being on the cusp of life and wresting life from bipolar disorder—that helped Dart decide.
She contacted Jamison and others at Hopkins who, in turn, described the huge void in young adults’ awareness of mood disorders. Could Dart perhaps fund a film that would get out the message? Something to show that these illnesses are both common and treatable?
In 1998, Day for Night: Recognizing Teenage Depression opened to quick praise. The documentary followed seven teenagers diagnosed with and successfully treated for mood disorders. It was accessible and, importantly, as color- and class-blind as the illnesses themselves, with the young patients racially varied and from diverse households. “It’s been a wonderful film, fabulous, even, in what it’s accomplished,” says Sallie Mink, with the Adolescent Depression Awareness Program (ADAP), a Hopkins-based effort to educate that age group. Shown to more than 12,000 kids so far, as well as parents and teachers, it’s still a mainstay.
But Dart, who runs the Rodwell Dart Memorial Foundation from its base in Aspen, Colo., has done more for the Hopkins cause. She’s funded two more films—each needed to help ADAP extend its reach nationwide. One, a training film, shows ADAP director Karen Swartz in action with the program’s students. And another is meant to educate their parents. “We want to be proactive,” says Swartz. “We want to offer hope. And Hailey’s commitment to sophisticated, much-needed media has been critical to our spreading this message.”