Damon Smith has estimated that he has spent around 50 thousand hours of his life, so far, participating in absurd ritualistic behaviors associated with his obsessive Compulsive Disorder. With the help of his anxious friend, Adam, these two, Australian musicians, share, with original music, preposterous humor, and outlandish animations, the intricate and debilitating nature of what it is like to live and talk about mental illness in a world where it’s ok to talk about a broken arm but not ok to talk about a broken mind.
Writers: Damon Smith, Adam Coad
Directors: Damon Smith
Based on, or an expansion of a stage show, Mental As Everything is a film about mental health that’s both insightful and somewhat educational. It’s almost the perfect kind of thing that teachers should play in schools to explain to students that it’s okay to feel like crap and not have an explanation for that feeling, but I digress.
After a rather zany opening that includes a few too many introductions and title cards, Damon Smith introduces himself and explains the premise of Mental As Everything. It’s pitched as a sort of companion piece to the stage show he does, in which he talks about and sings songs about mental health. Damon lives with obsessive-compulsive disorder and bipolar disorder, while his friend and musical partner, Adam Coad, struggles with a good old-fashioned dose of anxiety. In the documentary, through both talking pieces, comedic segments, songs and even animated videos, the two explaining their personal struggles with mental health and how each works differently for them.
The film is broken up into key segments, breaking down the particular mental health struggles and disorders that each of the two men struggles with daily. Both Damon and Adam do a fantastic job of talking about these issues with a raw yet humorous tone. Damon Smith details how he carries around a banana and his morning sock/shoe routine, while Adam Coad owns his anxieties and what they have cost him in his personal and professional life. When the two men are talking to the advice, it feels very straightforward and educational. They explain what their struggles are and how each condition can affect a person differently. When it comes to something like OCD, Coad does a fantastic job of pointing out the absurdity of social media posts proclaiming to “be so OCD.”
Periodically the two men together, or at times on their own, will perform a song about mental health. I presume these are taken from the stage show, but I’m not sure. Either way, they’re very good, and the intimate shot performances pull you into their words. The animated segments are used to visually explain some more elaborate explanations of how the men feel when dealing with mental health. They do the job, but at times felt a little bit too long.
Mental as Everything is a beautiful way to treat discussions about mental health. It’s both forward with its subject matter yet fun in the delivery. Mostly in thanks to the personalities of both men, paired with the songs and animated segments. I don’t recall any swear words or reasons schools shouldn’t show this film in class, and that’s where it feels it would almost be best suited. Not to say this film isn’t for adults as it does a wonderful job of de-stigmatizing the mental health issues they talk about, but I just wish I could have watched something like this when I was younger.