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TV series to fight mental health stigma

Mark Tilly / Khmer Times Share:
Behind the Glass Door aims to shine a spotlight on mental health in the country. Supplied

A new TV series and feature film, aiming to raise awareness surrounding mental health issues and backed with dose of Cambodian romance and drama, is set to commence filming next month.

Behind the Glass Door, a reference to its attempts to look beyond the stigma surrounding mental illness in Cambodia, stars Hang Mariny as Dalis, a young psychologist, who starts work at a mental health centre where she meets Dr Vuth, an experienced psychiatrist and head of the centre, played by Phal Povviroth.

However their hopes of romance are complicated by Marco, one of the patients, played by Pich Sophy, who disrupts all notions of what is ‘normal’ in life and love.

Mariny previously starred in Lom Eang Chet on Bayon TV, while Phal Povviroth starred in the movie Chuoy Oun Phong.

Deependra Gauchan, creative director at ComeTogether Films and advisor to Cambodia’s Department of Cinema said he wanted to
address the social issues surround mental health, while keeping things entertaining.

“We really wanted to shine the spotlight on mental health in Cambodia, because it’s a topic we think is very important and one that is rarely ever addressed in film and media in Cambodia,” he said in
a statement.

“We want to show and demystify what mental illness is in a sensitive yet entertaining way so that it doesn’t stay hidden.”

A recent World Health Organisation global report noted there could be as many as four people out of every 100 suffering from depression in Cambodia.

However, only about 9.3 percent of the country’s health centres offer mental health services. Some 60 percent of the national and referral hospitals provide such treatment.

The government said 50 percent of health centres will offer the services by 2020, according to the Ministry of Health.

Arts and entertainment have been effective cultural tools Cambodians have used in attempts to heal emotional scars left by the Khmer Rouge regime and the flow-on effects of PTSD and alcohol and substance abuse.

In casting new actors as some of the patients, Sothea Ines, founder and CEO of ComeTogether Films said they wanted to inject fresh blood into the Cambodian acting scene to help develop the industry.

“We’re really focusing on pushing the envelope and trying our best to help develop the film industry here by getting more young actors, directors and filmmakers involved in our process,” he said.

“We hope that through this collaborative initiative, we will inspire and provide hands-on experience for local filmmakers to make good films.”

A ceremonial blessing will be held today at ComeTogether’s headquarters in Phnom Penh to celebrate the start of the project, with plans to air the show next spring.

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TV series to fight mental health stigma