About the film.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health, and men have been particularly affected. The stress, uncertainty, and isolation brought on by the pandemic have led to increased levels of anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues in both men and women. However, cultural norms around masculinity and stigma surrounding mental health has made it harder for men to seek help and support, exacerbating the issue.

Mea Culpa: Men & Mental Health is an intimate documentary that explores the challenges, isolation and neglect men face post-pandemic. Interweaving several, unfolding, personal stories of men struggling with various mental health issues, the documentary features a series of interviews and real-time vignettes centred around a different man and his experiences with mental health struggles and recovery. All the stories connect in their diverse range of perspectives from men of different ages and ethnicities:

68-year-old Marvin, who has a genetic predisposition to depression and was institutionalized in a psychiatric ward for two months last year while mourning the sudden death of his wife. Max had been his life partner and lifeline and his story highlights the intersection of grief, mental health, and genetics, and emphasizes the importance of understanding and addressing these complex issues. The film explores Marvin’s journey as he navigates though his depression, self-guilt and the loss of his wife – and the challenges he faces in finding help and support. Using intimate video diaries filmed in the Jewish General psychiatric ward, meetings with his therapist, renowned McGill University psychologist Dr. Perry Adler and  footage of his ongoing rehabilitation at home as an outpatient, we focus on the depths of his grief as he navigates the complexities of mourning and the isolation of living with depression. 

By highlighting the unique experiences of an older man struggling with depression, the film calls attention to the often-ignored mental health needs of older adults.

47-year-old Mike, a struggling spoken word poet who was laid off at the beginning of the pandemic from his job in the gaming industry. Mike struggles with depression, alcoholism, and a sense of guilt over the suicide of his older brother. The film explores the complexities of Mike’s life, from his struggles with anxiety and depression and the abuse he suffered and continues to suffer at the hands of his brilliant, bipolar, mathematician father. Like Marvin, depression runs in Mike’s family, and while he does his best to avoid his ageing father, he cannot escape the guilt he feels at not being there for his older brother at his moment of fatal need. The pandemic has only added to his struggles as he deals with unemployment and isolation. 

Through a series of personal vignettes, and intimate poetry readings we observe Mike’s daily struggles as he tries to come to terms with his past, look for employment and find a way to move forward and overcome his demons. The stylized readings act as a catharsis for his ongoing struggles. 

34-year-old Jason’s narrative focuses on his tumultuous journey with anxiety and depression which was only taken seriously after he was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer – the same disease that took his mother a decade earlier. Unlike Marvin and MikeJason currently has apartner (name) who continues to play a central role in his voyage towards remission and recovery. 

Thus, his story emphasizes the primary role that love and support play in his journey through cancer, and highlights the importance of finding hope and resilience even in the face of adversity. His story also focuses on the ups and downs of his illness; from diagnosis and meetings with his oncologist to treatment and remission – and explores the ways in which his partner helps him to regain his will to live. By showing the positive impact that love and support can have on someone’s well-being and recovery, his story serves as a source of inspiration and hope for others facing the frightening challenge of depression, anxiety and cancer.

Maxence Archambault has struggled for more than a decade with physical difficulties, which grew into a struggle with anxiety, depression and addiction. Max has discovered a new love, music. Michael, a recording engineer and musician who is legally blind, is helping Max to discover his inner musician and to record an album. Max now has a sense of purpose and is coming to grips with his limitations as he hopes for the future.

Mea Culpa:  is a raw and honest portrayal of the daily struggles of men living with depression, and how the pandemic has made it even harder for those who are already struggling. The film seeks to break down stereotypes and misconceptions around men’s mental health, explore their inner lives and provide a way to raise awareness about the mental health struggles that men are experiencing and which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The film is also solution based in its exploration of depression, anxiety, and suicide and focuses on the various ways individuals, health care professionals and communities can address and support individuals who are struggling with these mental health conditions.

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