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‘Ar Intinn Eile (An Irish State of Mind)’ airs on TG4 Tonight
17 Sep 2014 : Deirdre Molumby
The topic of mental health is very much to the fore currently and now a timely series on TG4 sheds new light on a shadowy and controversial topic. The documentary ‘Ar Intinn Eile (An Irish State of Mind)’ premieres tonight and is a 3 x 52’ episodes documentary written and created by Virginia Gilbert.

Combining the latest research with contributions from leading academics, mental health care professionals and service users, the series is up-to-date, researched and balanced, and contains previously unseen film archives from Irish psychiatric institutions. Rather than a bleak story of terrible conditions and wrongful incarcerations, the story of mental healthcare in Ireland is in fact one of remarkable individuals making continuous efforts to improve the conditions of the "lunatic poor" in this country, with varying success.

Indeed just before the famine, the Irish system of public mental health provision was the envy of the world. The asylums eventually became overcrowded because it was simply too easy to get in, as the Asylum Superintendent was forbidden to turn patients away. In a country racked by poverty, living conditions were better in the asylums than outside. These institutions were for the poor only. So, Ireland did not have a higher rate of mental illness, as was occasionally claimed, but we did have more people in psychiatric institutions. The Irish people knew how to use them and did so freely.

In terms of future policies, one conclusion of the series is the detrimental effect of emigration not only on the mental health of emigrants, but also their children, born in the host country. As Dr. Dermot Walsh, former Inspector of Mental Hospitals, says in the programme, mental health planning must begin before birth and cover the next generation. It is a problem of society as much as of the individual.

The series is directed by Brendan Culleton and Irina Maldea, and produced by Katie Holly. The writers and producers were previously behind the critically acclaimed series ‘Striapacha’, which traced three hundred years of prostitution in Ireland. The directors helmed the IFTA award-winning ‘Congo-1961’.

The documentary is a Blinder Films production made with the support of the BAI Sound & Vision Fund in association with Akajava Films.

Radical, timely and thought provoking, ‘Ar Intinn Eile (An Irish State of Mind’) asks us all to challenge our assumptions about mental health and ultimately, forces us to question our very notions of identity, self and psyche.

The series will be broadcast on TG4 at the following times:

Episode 1: 17th September 2014 at 21:30
Episode 2: 24th September at 21.30
Episode 3: 1st October at 21.30

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