Used in leading Schools of Nursing, Social Work, Public
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"The most widely used educational film about schizophrenia ever


A story of madness and dignity, shame and love

The very personal documentary chronicles the filmmaker’s mother, Millie who suffered from
schizophrenia as she and the family endured the chaos of the mental health system as well as that of Millie’s mind.

One family’s journey…

Millie was just 25 with two small children when she was first plagued by the symptoms of schizophrenia. As mental chaos overwhelmed their mother, Susan and her sister Tina, struggled to cope with her. For years, the family’s ignorance and shame kept Millie’s behavior shrouded in secrecy. When her children left home, Millie’s life unraveled completely. After 20 years of transience and inadequate care, Millie finally has a chance to reclaim her life.

A story of madness and dignity, shame and love, this intimate film illuminates a national plight through one family’s struggle and helps dispel the stigmas and misconceptions surrounding this harrowing illness. The film continues to air on public television stations nationwide. It has been translated into nine languages and has aired in 12 countries.

Leads to new understanding

Out of the Shadow is a very personal documentary which chronicles the filmmaker Susan Smiley’s mother, Millie, and her family through Millie’s battle with schizophrenia and her subsequent trials within the public health system.

Out of the Shadow has become the most widely used educational film about mental schizophrenia ever made. It continues to be shown in hundreds of colleges and universities throughout the United States and abroad. It’s a film that profoundly changes how people view those who suffered from mental illnesses and their loved ones.

Praise for Out of the Shadow

Out of the Shadow is an honest and rare glimpse into the human experience of mental illness and the challenges families face when trying to care for their loved ones. Not only is it brilliantly made, but it is also an extremely effective tool for educating viewers about mental illness.

Out of the Shadow movingly captures a side of schizophrenia that few of us ever see, revealing the humility behind the disease without sentimentalizing it, and documenting the day-to-day injustices, tragedies and just plain frustrations experienced both by a woman who has schizophrenia and by those who love her.”

I would like to express the gratitude of the entire department for your work. I have worked with people who have severe psychiatric illnesses and their families for my entire career. I was moved to tears several times by the film: an honest, personal look at the tragedy of the illness of schizophrenia and our failure as a society to enact our ideals and utilize the knowledge we already possess. Every employee of this department will see this film. I can think of no better way to introduce them to the meaning and importance of their work

I showed your documentary to our mental health agency, and people loved it. It’s emotionally powerful and well balanced on many perspectives. It’s a realistic view of the pitfalls of the “system,” the lengths families must go to, the ravages of illness and the prospects of recovery. Thank you for sharing this. Thank you even more for making it.

This is a remarkable film about schizophrenia, portraying one woman and her family’s experience with the illness. It is emotionally powerful, showing that recovery is possible, while at the same time exposing flaws in our mental healthcare system. Susan Smiley has produced a memorable, masterful work.”

This is the best film on schizophrenia that I have ever seen. The power of the film to show the experience, the struggle, and the points of view of the person with a severe psychiatric disorder and of the family members is unsurpassed.”

Work with Susan Smiley

Sought after speaker Susan Smiley shares preScreen Shot 2014-03-13 at 5.11.24 PMsentations bridging the fields of mental health, neuroscience and human development. A Harvard-trained educator and a compelling storyteller, she is not only a public speaker, but an experienced workshop presenter and a neurofeedback specialist. Formerly, she was an award-winning documentarian with 15 years of non-fiction television and educational film credits. Susan has given presentations at corporations including behavioral healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, keynoted and presented at state and national conferences (NAMI, American Society of Bioethics and Humanities, Women’s Mental Health Symposium), and spoken at professional organizations (American Psychiatric Association, Biennial Winter Workshop on Schizophrenia Research in Davos), advocacy groups, universities (Boston University School of Public Health, UT Southwestern, Tulane), and government agencies (Departments of Health and Human Services and Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services). Susan is available for presentations along with screenings of the film. Discover more about her keynotes, workshops and talks.


NAMI Media Award, 2006

Advocacy Conferences and Meetings

  • NAMI National Convention
  • EUFAMI Congress, Torun, Poland, September 2007
  • (European Federation of Associations of Families of Mentally Ill People)

Professional Conferences – National and International

  • American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meetings
  • National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (NCCBH)
  • ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) Association

Post Graduate Academic Settings

  • Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology
  • Tulane University School of Medicine – Grand Rounds
  • UT Southwestern School of Medicine – Grand Rounds
  • SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY