Living with Mental Illness

Bundle of Nerves: Our Anxiety Epidemic

Through personal stories of those affected, this documentary examines the causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment. It also spotlights innovative initiatives that explore the issue in vulnerable populations, such as efforts to address anxiety disorders in college students and women. It will also explore co-occurrence with drug and alcohol dependency.

Premiered: December 3, 2015

About "Living with Mental Illness"

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness every year. WQED Multimedia's "Living With Mental Illness" campaign is an ongoing commitment to explore various aspects of mental health, examine different illnesses, focus on new research and treatment, and introduce people who are living with mental illness. The multi-platform project is intended to raise awareness, showcase positive outcomes - and above all - end stigma. WQED thanks NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania and Mental Health America (link) for their guidance, as well as others who took part in the project and courageously shared their stories in the hope of helping others.

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These webisodes explore various mental illness topics through the personal stories of those affected, with helpful advice from experts in specific fields.

Self-harm: Cutting

Self-harm is a common, yet misunderstood, behavior and instances of it are on the rise.  Learn about the mental health issues that drive people to engage in intentional non-suicidal self-harm, including behaviors such as cutting, burning, biting, and hitting.  And, learn about treatment options from a mental health professional and a young woman who recovered from self-harm behavior.


Schizophrenia is a severe developmental brain disorder that interferes with a person's ability to think clearly. While it affects only about 1% of the population, it is a traumatic illness for individuals and their families. In this report, Dr. Michael Rancurello from the Allegheny Health Network talks about the importance of early intervention. We also talk with local artist DJ Jackson, who explains how schizophrenia took over his life and what helps him stay on track.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive compulsive disorder affects about 2.2 million men and women in America ( Experts say it tends to be underdiagnosed and undertreated, mainly because it takes years for people to get help. In this story, Dr. Alicia Kaplan from the Allegheny Health Network explains the characteristics of OCD and the different treatment options available, while Squirrel Hill native Jordan Pearlman shares how the illness has affected his everyday life.


People often say they're feeling depressed. But major depression is a serious illness which affects millions of people of all ages and all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. During this conversation, Dr. Gary Swanson from the Allegheny Health Network explains the symptoms of major depression, while local school teacher Brenda Weingartner shares details of her long battle with the illness, including how she finally found relief.

Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art

Using artists to get the conversation going on mental illness—that's the idea behind a unique exhibit on display at the Society of Contemporary Craft in the Strip District. Executive Director Janet McCall says the pieces are meant to start the discussion about mental health in a safe and open environment.

You can find more information on Mindful: Exploring Mental Health Through Art here:,,,,

Web Extras

In this series of web extras, experts speak on various issues surrounding mental illness.


Christine Michaels, Executive Director of NAMI Southwestern Pennsylvania talks in depth about the stigma often associated with mental illness.

Culture of Compassion

Christine Michaels talks in depth about the importance of compassion in dealing with diseases of the mind.

Mental Illness, Violence and Media

Christine Michaels speaks about NAMI's goal to separate mental illness and violence, a connection often made by the media.

Depression and Teenagers

Dr. Gary Swanson from the Allegheny Health Network explains how loved ones can differentiate normal behavior from signs of depression in two very different age groups: teenagers and the elderly.

Depression in Old Age

Dr. Gary Swanson from the Allegheny Health Network explains how loved ones can differentiate normal behavior from signs of depression in two very different age groups: teenagers and the elderly.

Mental Health and College Students

Treating anxiety has become an enormous challenge for college mental health experts. In this web extra, learn more about factors that contribute to mental health issues in college students and discover steps to help young people ease their anxieties and manage common pressures.