Movie screening addresses, combats mental illness stigma

Kelvin Hawkins

Staff Writer

Troy’s department of civic engagement featured a documentary about former WNBA player, Chamique Holdsclaw, and her battle with mental illness as part of its Southern Film Circuit series.

The department presented the film “Mind/Game: The Unquiet Journey of Chamique Holdsclaw” in Claudia Crosby Theater on Monday, Feb. 6.

The film told the story of the professional basketball player and how she struggled with mental illness in her personal life and career.

The event was organized by Jonathan Cellon, associate dean of first-year studies, with support from other faculty and students.

“We want to bring active discussions on contemporary topics like the stigma of mental illness to the students of Troy,” Cellon said.

The film was directed and produced by Rick Goldsmith, who also attended the viewing of the film. Goldsmith is a social issue documentary filmmaker from Oakland, California, that has worked in his craft for over 30 years.

Goldsmith explained that the process of meeting Holdsclaw and hearing her story is what motivated him to make the film.

“The story connects with incidents in my own life,” Goldsmith said. “Around this, my daughter . . . had been dealing with a lot.”

Goldsmith said his film is often used for educational purposes in psychology and athletic classes.

“I like my film to speak for itself,” Goldsmith said. “If it has to have a message, it is recovery is possible.”

Goldsmith also spoke about his affinity for film-making, saying he gets “antsy and itchy” to start a new film after the last.

Holdsclaw’s story begins in her hometown of Queens, New York, where she became a public spectacle while playing for her high school basketball team. There, she gained enough attention to be recruited by the University of Tennessee and become one of its top players.

Away at college, far from her family she suffered a great deal of separation issues. Holdsclaw had to live with her grandmother for most of her life due to her mother and father’s drinking problems.

Upon entering into the professional world of the Women’s National Basketball Association, Holdsclaw discovered she was clinically depressed. Later, she was torn from the loss of her grandmother and waning public opinion after new outlets and fans discovered her illness.

After a great deal more trouble in her life, Holdsclaw sought help for her condition, only to discover she also suffers from bipolar disorder, all while still holding on to her career.

The film homed in on a national stigma concerning mental illness and a general refrain to seek help. The narrative used Holdsclaw’s story to illustrate how trauma and denial can worsen a common and taxing disease.

Holdsclaw still deals with her condition but encourages others to seek help like herself.

“I was surprised by the way she transformed and came from a low place in her life,” said Shelby Styron, a sophomore accounting major from Goshen, who attended the event.

The department of civic engagement will be holding its next screening in March.

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