IN/OUT Event, 8th December 2011

Stephen Fry’s candid documentary “The Secret Life of a Manic Depressive” provided an insight into what life is like for people with mental ill-health, and was the basis for an open discussion into inclusion in the Jewish community. The event formed part of the Judith Trust’s Inclusion Campaign to promote the integration of people with learning disabilities and mental ill-health in the Jewish Community. This screening was the second in a series of film-showings run jointly by The Judith Trust, The JCC, Norwood and JAMI, following on from the successful screening of Praying with Lior, which explores the journey of a boy with Down’s Syndrome to his bar mitzvah and into Jewish adulthood.

The event, attended by around 40 people, was Chaired by Annette Lawson, Chair of the Judith Trust, and the panel comprised Rabbi David Mason, of Muswell Hill United Synagogue, and Tanya Harris from JAMI (Jewish Association of Mentally Ill), who are both members of the Judith Trust Inclusion Campaign Advisory Group.

The film raised issues around living with bi-polar disorder, which affects 1-2% of adults in their lifetime. A key message raised both in the film and the discussion which followed, was that inclusion is an important part of recovery. Being part of a community provides social support, routine, engagement, sense of purpose and opportunities for development; all of which are essential to mental well-being. Audience members with personal experience of learning disabilities and/or mental ill-health, as well as other disabilities, spoke frankly about the challenges they had faced being included as well as the immense rewards of successful inclusion.