October 2021 Film Platform Forum: A Focus on Mental Health

Explore the Science of Joy

Use the documentary Mission: JOY-Finding Happiness in Troubled Times to teach how joy, and the science behind it, guided the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in their life’s work and why joy is absolutely necessary for our mental and physical wellbeing.

Mission: JOY  Event Highlights

Revisit the conversation on finding joy in the face of inevitable adversity in life.

See below selected highlights from the panel discussion. You are invited to watch the full recording of the event and share. Panelists discussed:
  • Personal strategies of finding joy even during the most difficult times
  • Ways to balance social media with authentic human connections
  • Suggestions to steward more joy on your college campus
  • How joy can positively affect our physical and mental health


Doug Abrams

Co-Author of The Book of Joy and interviewer in Mission: JOY

Dr. Elissa Epel

Professor, University of California, San Francisco

Dr. Tupten Jinpa

Tibetan Buddhist scholar, English translator for His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Peggy Callahan

Moderator and Co-Producer of Mission: JOY

Video Highlights from the Live Event

Click on a thumbnail to watch the highlight clip

  • Clip 1: How do we nurture hope in times of difficulty?

    Listen to His Holiness and Archbishop Tutu offer guidance to people who are struggling with depression and despair (3:17 min.)

  • Clip 2: Strategies for building the muscles of joy.

    Panelists share their own strategies to find joy in their day-to-day life (16:44 min.)

  • Clip 3: The influence of social media on young people in regards to joy and despair.

    Panelists speak to how social media can enhance joy and happiness (5:29 min.)

  • Clip 4: How science confirms that joy is critical for physical and psychological wellbeing.

    Learn from the documentary and from Dr. Elissa Epel how science confirms what these spiritual leaders already know (5:00 min.)

Research on the Science of Joy

Current Publications and Data on Mental Health and Wellbeing

FORUM SPOTLIGHT: Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops

Documentary films informing education around the world

People with mental illness are overrepresented in our nation’s jails and prisons. As part of the San Antonio Police Department’s ten-person mental health unit, Ernie Stevens and Joe Smarro are trying to change this reality. Their innovative approach to compassionate policing practices—which takes mental health into account—is having a dramatic effect on the way police are trained and how they respond to these challenges.

Through our engagement campaign's "Free to LE" streaming offer, over 400 US law enforcement and public safety agencies have registered for unlimited free access to the film promising to use it in trainings with over 40,000 personnel.

This story can be the start of a critical conversation in your classroom.

Mental Illness and the Criminal Justice System in the United States

  • About 2 million times each year, people with serious mental illness are booked into jails.
    3 in 5 people (63%) do not receive mental health treatment while incarcerated in state and federal prisons, and less than half (45%) while held in local jails.
  • 66% of women in prison reported having a history of mental illness, almost twice the percentage of men in prison.
  • Nearly one in four people shot and killed by police officers between 2015 and 2020 had a mental health condition.
  • An estimated 4,000 people with serious mental illness are held in solitary confinement inside U.S. prisons.
  • 70% of youth in the juvenile justice system have a diagnosable mental health condition, and while In detention are 10 times more likely to suffer from psychosis than youth in the community.
  • About 50,000 veterans are held in local jails — 55% report experiencing a mental illness.

Data from the U.S. Department of Justice and other select sources. See https://nami.org/mhstats

“We, as leaders of police agencies, should urge all of our police officers to watch this film. The value of seeing Erine and Joe utilizing tools that we teach our officers is more powerful than any training class alone could deliver. Officers need to see, know, and believe they are capable of making remarkable impacts in individuals’ lives, especially in moments of crisis.”

-Renee Dominguez, Acting Chief of Police, New Haven, CT
Watch Ernie & Joe: Crisis Cops

What is Film Platform Forum?

A blog highlighting the most relevant documentary film content for the academic world and organizations with a mission to educate. Film events, professional training, and academic research are carefully curated to amplify the impact of documentary films included on Film Platform.

Who is it for?

Anyone can access the free forum. Share it with colleagues, staff, research assistants, and students!


Why Film Platform Forum Now?

Documentary films tell us stories of social and political import. They reveal hidden truths, are windows into investigative journalism, touch our emotions, and uncover forgotten history. For higher education institutions and workplaces, documentary films are a resource to engage, inspire, and inform like no other form of content.

Such stories are vital to sustain and strengthen media literacy.  As faculty keep pace with the media students consume, they also need to trust the scholarship and content they are recommending. Like a syllabus, the monthly edition of the Forum will be vetted, curated, and aligned to the monthly documentary topic. In any given month the Forum may highlight a new film on Film Platform, share a highly relevant panel event for faculty and students to attend, direct attention towards new research, recommend ‘Calls to Action’, or analyze the merits and veracity of critiques and controversies connected to the documentary. 

Learning is dynamic. Documentary films are, too. Film Platform Forum connects the dots between the two, expanding the use and impact of Film Platform films in coursework, research, and new scholarship…and to change the world.