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MENTAL is a documentary that observes the complex world of an 
outpatient mental health clinic Chorale Okayama in Japan, interwoven 
with patients, doctors, staff, volunteers, and home-helpers.

People with various mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar 
disorder, eating disorders, panic disorder, and personality disorder 
visit Chorale Okayama to see Dr. Masatomo Yamamoto. They are men and 
women of all ages, with diverse backgrounds and various attitudes to 
their own illnesses.

There is an elite businessman who worked too hard 
and was diagnosed with "burn-out syndrome."  There is a woman 
who has suffered from an eating disorder since somebody said to her 
that her legs were too fat. There is a mother who ended up 
killing her own newborn baby. Because of their illnesses, 
some attempt suicide repeatedly, and others actually kill 
themselves (As of today, two of the patients in the film have 
committed suicide). Some have been dealing with their illnesses for 
decades, and have developed their own philosophy, religious faith, or 
artistic expressions. Some hide their illnesses even from their 
family members and friends, while others give lectures to reduce 
prejudice and misunderstanding about mental illness.

When Dr. Masatomo Yamamoto, founder and director of Chorale Okayama, 
worked for a mental hospital, he questioned why the locks installed 
on the doors of the wards could only be unlocked from the outside. 
"These locks are not for patients but for doctors and staff," he 
thought. Then, he became a pioneer in the movement to get rid of 
locks from psychiatric wards. At Chorale Okayama, he tries to support 
patients so that they will be able to live in society, not locked up 
in hospitals. He created two kinds of workplaces for patients: 
Pastel, a milk-delivery service company, and Mini-Chorale, a small 
restaurant.

However, the situation surrounding mental health care in Japan is not 
so forgiving. Suffering from budget deficits, national and local 
governments are cutting costs, grants, and services toward mental 
patients and institutions.

MENTAL depicts various aspects and problems of mental health, showing 
such scenes as consultations and treatments of patients by Dr. 
Yamamoto, education of nurses, waiting rooms filled with patients, 
staff members negotiating with government agencies to maintain 
services, activities at Pastel and Mini-Chorale, and home helpers 
supporting patients living at home. It also depicts the daily lives 
and candid faces of patients, revealing their philosophy, sufferings, 
anxiety, and joy.
       
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