April 13, 2020

Directed by

Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, M.D.

Examine the mental health crisis through intimate stories of people in-and-out of ERs, jails and homeless camps.


About the Documentary

To get to the bottom of the current mental health crisis in the U.S., psychiatrist and documentarian Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, M.D. chronicles the personal, poignant stories of those suffering from serious mental illness, including his own family, to bring to light to this epidemic and possible solutions. Shot over the course of five years, Bedlam takes viewers inside Los Angeles County’s overwhelmed and vastly under-resourced psych ER, a nearby jail warehousing thousands of psychiatric patients, and the homes — and homeless encampments — of people affected by severe mental illness, where silence and shame often worsen the suffering.

Rosenberg follows the lives of three patients in particular who find themselves with a chronic lack of institutional support while weaving in his own story of how the system failed his late sister, Merle, and her battle with schizophrenia.  Featuring interviews with experts, activists, individuals living with a mental illness, and their families, Bedlam builds on historical footage and commentary related to mental health, exploring the rise of this issue on a national scale in the mid- and late 20th century. 

The Filmmakers

Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, M.D.

Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, M.D. has been making award-winning documentaries since medical school. While a medical student at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, he also studied film at NYU. He co-produced and co-directed (with Ruth Neuwald Falcon) An Alzheimer’s Story, a film about living with Alzheimer’s disease, filmed over the course of eighteen months. After his residency in Psychiatry at the Payne-Whitney Clinic at New York Presbyterian Hospital, he did a Fellowship in Public Health, during which he directed and produced Through Madness, a film on serious mental illness, for PBS. While a practicing psychiatrist, Ken produced and directed films for HBO, including Why Am I Gay?: Stories of Coming Out In America (Oscar Documentary Feature Shortlist), Back From Madness, and Drinking Apart, and executive produced Cancer: Evolution to Revolution (Peabody Award-winner). He is also the editor of medical textbooks and author of popular books including Bedlam: An Intimate Journey Into America's Mental Health Crisis, which was published by Avery/Penguin Random House. 


  • Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards

    Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award

Learn more about the documentary

Join the Discussion

Share your own experiences dealing with mental health care. Do you have anyone in your family who went through an experience similar to the filmmaker's or his sister's? What can the United States do better in treating people with serious mental illness? How can we have a national conversation about it?


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