Bedlam is the first major documentary to explore the crisis in the care of severely mentally ill citizens. Set in Los Angeles, the film tracks wrenching individual stories of mentally-ill patients caught on an endless merry-go-round of ineffective care, exposing the anatomy of a broken healthcare mill.
What was once a system built around long-term asylum care has essentially become a crude horror show for thousands who are detained, medicated, and tossed onto the streets with no means of recovery. Petty crime and drug addiction land many in prison, where they are detained and medicated again, creating a tragic loop. As one psychiatrist points out, this government-sanctioned loop is the actual definition of insanity. Add to that the fact that few psychiatrists are even willing to treat those most severely afflicted, and you’ve got an all-out crisis that’s also a significant source of homelessness and incarceration.
Bedlam shows how deep-seated shame, stigma, and decades-long political negligence have led to the single most significant social catastrophe of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries with a mixture of pained intimacy and sweeping historical context.