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Mysteries of Mental Illness, a multi-platform initiative from GBH, examines the story of mental illness in science and society. With a four-hour broadcast series, a digital series and an extensive engagement campaign, Mysteries of Mental Illness traces the evolution of this complex topic from its earliest days to present times. It explores dramatic attempts across generations to unravel the mysteries of mental illness, and give voice to contemporary Americans across a spectrum of experiences.

Throughout history to today, we’ve continued to grapple with deceptively simple questions about mental health: What is mental illness? From where does it come? Around one in four people suffer from mental illness.

An American is more likely to need services from psychiatry than from any other medical specialty. But a diagnosis of a mental disorder carries a stigma that a heart condition or other physical ailment doesn’t—in large part because mental illness is poorly understood and has been for so long. 

Many Americans’ diagnoses have grown more acute during the coronavirus pandemic, and people who had been previously undiagnosed – including many who remain so – are now suffering for the first time from depression and other disorders that have been exacerbated by the present-day crises. One of the most critical barriers to treatment is the stigma of mental illness.

Archival Sepia toned photo of a woman in a white night gown sitting in a chair by a bed. The window behind her has bars.


The short-form digital video series, Decolonizing Mental Health, is geared toward destigmatizing mental illness by featuring profiles of influencers living with mental health challenges. 

The digital series focuses its lens on how mental illness, and the healthcare industry surrounding it, specifically impacts communities of color. The series will help audiences identify biases and offer solutions from providers, patients and their family. 

Each episode (approx. 3-5 minutes long) introduces a BIPOC person, who will share their perspective living with mental illness, or helping their communities cope with access to mental health care. This perspective is shaped, honed and determined by their specific location within the complex stratifications of race, class, gender, labor, and immigration. 

Mysteries of Mental Illness Digital Series Icon: Decolonizing Mental Health