Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Mental Health Care in Rural America

Four residents of rural Cochise County, Arizona struggle within a criminal justice system in which the de facto mental health facility is the county jail.

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Independent Lens
Premiere Date
December 6, 2019
14 minutes
Funding Initiative
Short-Form Series and Special Projects
filmmaker James Burns

James Burns

James didn't go to film school. He taught himself how to read and write in prison after being tried as an adult and convicted at 15 after taking the wrong path in his youth. Since then, James has concentrated his efforts on documentary filmmaking to develop an award-winning career and a reputation for bold, cinematic storytelling. He is personally invested Show more in creating films that take on complex and systemic issues, and character driven stories, He is also known for his ability to gain unique access to difficult spaces. James has been a Director/Producer for VICE Media where he has directed and contributed to over 60 documentaries for web and TV. In 2017 he created the Solitary Confinement Project, a month-long 24-hour livestream in which James voluntarily entered into solitary confinement for 30 days and broadcast his time inside. The project was nominated for a Webby Award in 2018. He was also nominated for the D&AD Next Director award in 2017, selected for the Saatchi & Saatchi New Directors Showcase at Cannes Lion in 2016, And won the TriBeCa Film Festival Special Jury Mention Award in 2015. In addition to his film work James dedicates time to speak with and mentor incarcerated youth. He hopes to provide young people with a positive influence and tools to empower themselves. Show less

filmmaker Chris Herde

Chris Herde

Chris is an award-winning editor and producer for film, TV and web. Her work spans many different genres, from documentary to music video to dance film, working with companies including VICE, ABC, Disney, Yahoo, USA, the Olympic Channel and more. She's currently editing her first feature documentary and has recently moved into producing short Show more narratives. In 2019 she was the series producer for The Scarlet Letter Reports with Amanda Knox, which was was nominated for a Digiday Award. In 2018 her work as a co-producer and editor on transgender legislator Danica Roem’s historic victory was nominated for a Webby and won a GLAAD award, and she received an Imagen Award for her reporting on the families of deported migrants in San Ysidro. Before moving into film and video, Chris choreographed and performed as a contemporary dancer. In New York her work has been presented at Triskelion Arts, the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Summerstage NYC, HERE Arts, and the Vanderbilt Republic. She got her start in film working on commercial sets as an assistant choreographer to acclaimed dance filmmaker Noemie Lafrance. She brings this sense of movement and emotionality to her film work. Show less

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The Film

In many rural counties in the U.S., the de facto mental health facility is the county jail. Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Mental Healthcare in Rural America explores how the lack of access to mental healthcare in Cochise County, AZ intersects with the local criminal justice system. The short film follows four characters as they struggle at each level of the system, from a patient who has landed in jail multiple times to the sheriff whose facility is flooded with inmates needing treatment. Through their stories, we see the long-term impact of a system that often criminalizes people for needing mental healthcare.