Exposing the Mental Health Crisis Among Special Needs Caregivers

Special needs caregivers are exhausted and isolated, and their mental and physical struggle is a public health crisis that often ends in tragedy. This documentary will give an unfiltered, honest glimpse into their lives to enable a change for millions of caregivers and their families.

We need your help!


We are now raising funds to create the first episode of the series! Your donation is tax-deductible when made through The Lucas Project, a nonprofit providing resources and respite to caregivers of special needs kids. Click here to donate now!

What is episode 01 about?

Episode 01 of the series will feature Jess and Ryan Ronne. They married after they each lost their spouse to brain cancer. Their blended family is made up of 8 children, including Lucas, their 15-year-old, non-verbal son with profound special needs who requires around-the-clock care. Lucas’ autistic behaviors include incessant screaming and frequent outbursts, putting Jess and Ryan constantly on edge, even sending Ryan to the emergency room with anxiety attacks. As they sit on waiting lists for underfunded state and private programs, Lucas’ autistic behaviors grow more concerning with his age and strength.

The physical and mental exhaustion, plus the uncertainty of how they will care for Lucas in the future, is overwhelming. We’ll go behind closed doors to see what life as a special needs caregiver is really like, and follow Jess and Ryan as they figure out what’s next for their family.

If you know a special needs family or have just seen one in public, you’ve probably wondered how they do it. You’ve probably had questions you were afraid to ask. You may have even wanted to help, but not known how. This episode will give you a raw, unfiltered view into the lives of people who are used to going unseen.

Why is this project needed?

We can give you statistics about how special needs caregivers have high stress and failing health. But stats are easy to ignore.

We can show you news articles about tragedies that happen when caregivers don’t get the support they need. You’ll pause, but then go on with your day.

Until we put names, faces and stories with the struggles of special needs caregivers, they will continue to go unseen. This project is a step toward the recognition and resources that caregivers deserve — from us as individuals and our society at large.

Click here to read more about why this project is needed.

How much money do you need to raise?

Our initial goal is $20,000 to cover basic production expenses. Any additional funds raised now or in the future will likely go toward post-production, distribution and marketing expenses. 

How will the money be used?

The bulk of our expenses are equipment, crew members and talent. We’ve trimmed the bugdet as much as we can to still allow us to create a compelling, beautiful film that does the subjects and their stories justice. 

What do I get if I donate?

Our eternal gratitude and the knowledge that you have contributed to bringing something good and life-changing into the world!

And…for all donations of $50 or more, you’ll receive free access to watch the first episode when it’s released, and you’ll get your name in the credits and on our website!

There is often a very dark reality to being a caregiver for an individual with profound special needs.

We see uplifting, heartwarming stories about people with special needs, focused on hope and inspiration, but there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes. Many of their caregivers are struggling. They face tremendous pressure that is rarely relieved, and feel exhausted and isolated, with few who understand the realities of their situation.

The result is a mental health crisis among caregivers. It looks like depression, anxiety, insomnia, alcoholism, suicide, PTSD, and drug abuse. It takes the form of declining physical health and failing relationships. This unseen epidemic is affecting families in our neighborhoods, schools, and churches.

Caregivers don’t see their stories represented in media — until something tragic happens. Even family and friends don’t fully understand the internal and external struggles they face.

Special needs caregivers know how to make it look like everything is under control. They know how to shield those around them from the chaos and unpredictably that define their lives. But for many special needs caregivers, the present is heavy and the future often looks dark. The Unseen documentary will bring caregivers and their stories into the light.

Share Your Caregiver Story

We are seeking caregivers who want to share their story and mental health challenges. For more information, email us at and let us know you're interested.

Our Partners & Sponsors




Our Fiscal Sponsor

The Lucas Project is a nonprofit organization that provides recognition, resources and respite to caregivers of special needs children. The Lucas Project is serving as our fiscal sponsor for this project. Learn more....

Tax-Deductible Donations

Your donation to fund this documentary is tax-deductible when made through The Lucas Project. Donate now...






Carol Johnson
Victoria Curtis
Rebecca Queen-Johnson
Shawn Weston
Stephanie Gerster
Jennifer Vanden Burg
Kelli McInstosh
Frederick Marvel
Evelyn Owens
Amanda Pelar
Kinerette Martin
Lisa Dzialo
Pat & Joe LeCount
Karie Dillinger
James Kole
Lori Reinke
Banu Ahmed

Stacey Skrocki
Sarah Zalan
David Morgan
Alyce Kaplan
Jamie Berra
Tamar Rothstein
Kara Bufalino
Constance Page
Liz Redd
Christina Kiefer
Sarah Hess
Denise Lombardi
Ivett O'Quinn
Carrie Moses
Denise Hunter
Karin Lunsford
Millie Calabrese
Lucinda Peterson



Katie Allred
Tammy Ramirez
Mary Jo LaMont
Jesse Bowman
Adam & Mary Rosenbaum
Katie & Tim Miller
Ashleigh & Grant Cote
Angela Reichert
Jan Gaines
Lisa Lombardi
Aimee Wisyanski
Julia Coorey
Tricia Dimmitt
Kara Van Roten
Lisa Graham-Garza
Kate McCalla
James Batek
T. Smith



Bill & Janice Queen
Levi & Kelly Watson
Ben & Amanda McCreary
Sharon & Andy Dyer
Jackie Parambil



Thomas & Rachel Kirk
The Lucas Project
Landslide Creative
Escher Family Fund
Priya Iyer


Are you an organization dedicated to supporting caregivers and special needs families?

Let's talk about how we can work together to further your mission! Get in touch with Amanda at

Do you want to see this documentary come to life?

Your financial support is crucial to funding the travel, equipment and other expenses necessary for production and distribution. Please consider making a donation.