New Short Film ‘MENTAL’ Embodies the Struggle of Mental Illness

Some moments in life can only be fully captured with the help of movie magic.

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       …and there are some things in life that no amount of soft focus will help.

If you’ve ever lived with mental illness, then you know that the world can often feel distant and detached from you. Watching others living their lives can feel as though you are watching a movie, and your own reality seems blurred, unfamiliar, and distorted. Film is often the perfect medium with which to capture the essence of this experience, and the new short film MENTAL is a shining example.


MENTAL is the newest project from Canadian creative team M&J (a.k.a. Meeshelle Neal and Jax Smith). The film premiered last month at the International Covellite Film Festival, where it won the honor of “Achievement in Filmmaking, Best Short Form” to add to the BravoFact Award it had already earned.

MENTAL centers around the character of Alicia (played by Neal), who experiences reality as series of detached, dream-like episodes. As she bounces back and forth between depression and anxiety, Alicia turns to medication to “normalize” her mind. She eventually accepts that the only way to truly get a grasp on reality is to face her fears and her mental illness head-on.


Neal and Smith are a Vancouver-based writing duo, bouncing between the roles of writer, director, producer, and actor from project to project. Smith served as director for MENTAL, and Neal took on the work of writer, producer, and–of course–leading lady.


Though the team’s 11-minute film is new on the scene, it is already sparking conversation around mental illness, and is poised to make the rounds on the festival circuit in the year to come. You can learn more about MENTAL on M&J’s website.

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