On the Edge in Utah

Whenever I go out-of-town to give a speech, I try to encourage local reporters to investigate mental health services in their communities. When I visited Utah last year to speak at the state’s NAMI convention, I was interviewed by Nancy R. Green, a television producer at KUED, which is affliated with the University of Utah.  

The great thing about Nancy is that she is an investigative reporter, so she wasn’t satisfied listening to me talk about what happened to Mike and my investigation in the Miami Dade Pre-Trial Detention Center for my book CRAZY: A Father’s Service Through America’s Mental Health Madness.  After she spent time talking to me on camera, she launched her own investigation to discover what is happening today in Utah. Her report, On the Edge, is top-notch and provides a real public service to the state.

Nancy’s report should win a bunch of awards, but even more important, the documentary is sparking debate in the state about what she discovered. NAMI gave Utah a “D” grade in its last national report card and the KUED documentary looks at why the state is failing to help many of its most needy residents.  Reports such as Nancy’s not only educate the public and make politicians uncomfortable, they also help us fight stigma.  People realize that there should be no shame in having a mental disorder, only shame in not providing services to those who do so that they can recover.

I often feel that reporting such as Nancy’s is going out of style, especially when it comes to dealing with tough and often troubling subjects, such as mental illness. Instead, it seems the most popular television shows feature talking heads that scream at each other or fluff journalism about the latest Hollywood scandal.

You can watch Nancy’s thoughtful and well-done documentary here.

I wish there were more such reporters and stations willing to invest the time and effort to expose problems and offer solutions.

Thanks Nancy for letting me be part of your documentary.

About the author:

Pete Earley is the bestselling author of such books as The Hot House and Crazy. When he is not spending time with his family, he tours the globe advocating for mental health reform.

Learn more about Pete.


  1. advocate4change says

    Excellent except for the omission of impact of one of the major symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar which is anosognosia or lack of insight which affects up to fifty percent of individuals with these severe mental illnesses. Anosognosia is listed in the DSM-IV-TR (text revision) where it states that it “has been found to be predictive of an increased number of involuntary hospital admissions, poorer psychosocial functioning, and a poorer course of illness.” One of the ways to help someone with a severe mental illness and anosognosia with a history of not accepting treatment is through sensible court-ordered assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) in the community. While CIT trained officers are essential, one of the police associations in our state has signed a resolution to pass our proposed AOT legislation because it would “provide consistent, sustained treatment for people with severe mental illness and it reduces the number of times officers intervene in these crisis situations.”

    Of couse we need supports in place in our communities, but we should also reach out to those individuals with mental illness and anosognosia to ensure they are able to access those services and programs.