Following the successful release of the documentary, Kings Park: Stories from an American Mental Institution, filmmaker Lucy Winer has teamed up with critically acclaimed author and historian, Nancy Tomes, PhD, to create a groundbreaking digital learning site aimed at the mental health care community, with special focus on those going into the healthcare profession.
Believing in the power of personal narratives to shift attitudes and inspire positive change, the site is called Unlocked: Stories of Public Mental Health Care. Rooted in the wealth of first-person narratives Lucy has filmed over the years with people who, like herself, had firsthand experience of Kings Park State Hospital, the site puts a human face on the past and its impact today.
The vivid and deeply personal stories at the heart of this project have not been heard before, and they capture a history that is rapidly vanishing. Accounts are shared from multiple perspectives. Patients, peers, family members, direct care staff, clinicians, administrators, inmates, law enforcement and corrections personnel share very different realities, which together provide a balance and an overview that inspires open dialogue and better understanding. Even the most painful stories offer hope.
The education of America health care professionals is missing the important history of public mental health care and the effect that history continues to have on real people. Young people and even many seasoned professionals know little of the public mental hospitals’ tragic past and the kind of neglect and abuse that once flourished in many of them. By addressing this serious gap in the education of health care professionals, the new website will promote practices that rely on mutual respect between caregivers and those seeking support.
Especially today, people may conclude that the re-opening of these large facilities is a good solution to current problems. By telling the Kings Park story with intimacy and depth, the creators of Unlocked want to make sure that even as the buildings close, the history of what went on at Kings Park and throughout our state hospital system is not forgotten.
With a generous grant from the Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, a working prototype for the site is currently in development. The prototype is scheduled to be beta tested with university and peer support partners. To date, Wildlight, Inc. has devised a guided learning experience for users, created written and video learning content and worked with a development and design team to build the completed prototype by the end of October 2018.
Following beta testing, the completed site will offer:
Development and testing of the prototype is a collaboration between four partners: