Walking Man is a sentimental portrait of an admirable march by Mark Norwine and his son to encourage public discussion of mental illness and the detrimental effects of school bullying. The Norwines undertook the walk, between two cities in rural Missouri, in response to a cluster of suicides by young people in a nearby rural community.
The film will be of greatest benefit to people who have little prior knowledge about depression, bipolar disorder or psychiatric treatment. It discusses these issues mostly from a general social and family perspective. Significant topics that are not discussed include psychosis and psychotherapy.
The film highlights the dialogue between father and son, who have both been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. We also hear a lot from a teary eyed Mrs. Norwine about her experience as caretaker, wife and mother. There's a significant amount of footage of Mr. Norwine speaking in school gymnasiums. One of the more significant moments is when Norwine gives a talk after being told by school administrators to avoid mentioning the suicides that had recently occurred in the area. Forced to soften his speach, the presentation falls flat and the students show little response. Frustrated, the Norwines note we have a long way to go before topics like suicide prevention will be discussed freely and openly.