‘Ride the Tiger:’ CEHHS faculty develop resources for PBS documentary about bipolar disease

April 11, 2016

Laura Reynolds
Laura Reynolds

Two University of Michigan-Dearborn faculty members are ready to have a national conversation about mental health.

College of Education, Health, and Human Services Associate Dean Laura Reynolds and Professor Kim Killu have developed educational resources to complement Ride the Tiger: A Guide through the Bipolar Brain, a new documentary from Detroit Public Television (DPTV) that will air on PBS stations nationwide.

“There are so many health concerns surrounding bipolar disease and health—individual health, community health and relational health,” Reynolds said. “Because of these concerns, there’s an educational need as well—a need to approach the broader population in terms of how we talk about and address mental health in this country.”

Kim Killu
Kim Killu

Ed Moore, executive producer of DPTV’s national documentary unit, said he sees the resources as a tool to help continue a national dialogue about bipolar disease following the documentary’s premiere.

“The popular headline we keep hearing today is, ‘Rewire your brain for happiness. And while it’s not quite that simple for those with severe mental illness, there is some truth to it—that the brain is far more malleable than we ever knew. Researchers are just now starting to understand how that works and how it could be harnessed for future treatments,” he said.

“We are thankful for all the experts and individuals who shared their stories to make this film so valuable. We are also thankful to all our partners, especially University of Michigan-Dearborn for writing the curriculum for this film to provide students and educators with the tools necessary to talk about the film and the issue of bipolar disorder.”

When developing the resources, Killu and Reynolds divided materials into three components:

  • Content information: A glossary of key psychological, psychiatric, scientific, and medical terms used in the film, and a bipolar fact sheet—which includes information like diagnostic criteria, prevalence rate, and course of treatment—provide basic information for those looking to learn more.
  • Engagement tools: Two discussion guides—one for young adults and one for adults—help facilitate conversations post-viewing, especially in settings like universities, schools, faith-based and community organizations.
  • Support and direction: An annotated listing of online resources provides additional direction to educators, clinicians, those living with bipolar disease or supporting someone who has been diagnosed, along with other additional resources with general information on bipolar disorder, current research, and future directions.

The resources will be mailed to community, educational and religious organizations throughout the country along with a copy of the documentary. They also will be available to the general public on the Ride the Tiger website.

Reynolds and Killu also helped create short, online video clips, combing through hours of interview transcripts and organizing the materials by theme. They said the creative process—which began for them last year with a viewing of an early cut of the documentary—provided an opportunity to both learn from experts in a variety of fields and strengthen their enthusiasm for their own work.

“We have spent our lives learning about mental health—working with others, teaching and training in regards to mental health,” Killu said. “To be able to use our training and our passion and apply it to this project that has the possibility to make an impact both in the region and nationwide is incredibly meaningful.”

All members of the UM-Dearborn community are invited to a special Ride the Tiger screening and discussion panel on campus on April 22. The College of Education, Health, and Human Services will host the event, which will focus on community resources and the collaborative relationships among community organizations.

Ride the Tiger premieres on PBS on Wednesday, April 13, at 10 p.m. The special UM-Dearborn screening and discussion panel will take place Thursday, April 22, at 9 a.m., in Fairlane Center South’s Michigan Room. To register for the event, visit www.umdearborn.edu/cehhs/ridethetiger.

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