Right in the Centre - Movie speaks volumes to mental health issues


By Ken Waddell

Neepawa Banner & Press

Nearly every family in Manitoba has been impacted by mental health issues. In recent months, it seems that the topic is on everyone’s mind. With a large number of deaths by suicide. It would appear that many families are at risk of losing a member who has become so depressed that the only escape plan that they come to is taking their own life.

When one looks at all the pressure that people are under it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

In spite of all the hard work by families, community groups, school staff and clergy, the mental health crisis besieging us is both real and severe.

It isn’t often that we can turn to Hollywood for solutions. We are used to being entertained, made to laugh or sometimes get a clearer picture of history from the movie industry. But getting a very real appreciation of fundamental problems and possible solutions doesn’t often come out of the entertainment sector.

My wife and I attended the recently released movie, A Man Called Otto, this past weekend.

It could hardly be called entertainment. There were some real life experiences, some humorous moments and many, many sad ones. Otto, played by the unquestionably talented Tom Hanks, is a retired engineer. Reluctantly retired, it should be noted, by a company that doesn’t seem to value people, their contributions or their feelings. He is also a grieving widower who has become a recluse. Otto always had a gruff manner and considered many others as idiots. When all the weight of past troubles, losses and anger came to bear, he cracked and actively decides to end his own life to join his wife on the other side.

Without giving away the whole story, there are people who, through their daily life, intervene, lift each other up and find a solution.

There weren’t a lot of dry eyes in the theatre and in all my years, I don’t recall people actually shouting out in shock during a movie. I also don’t recall ever seeing so many people remaining in their seats after a movie with tears flowing and in shocked silence.

The message is powerful, but if you can’t attend the movie, remember we can always care about each other and intervene with kind intentions. When we reach out to others, we never know how much difference we can make.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this column are the writer’s personal views and are not to be taken as being the view of the Banner & Press staff.