MENTAL? 

The launch of a unique film challenging mental health stigma through the eyes of young people in Norwich, UK.

The participants, aged between 15 and 25 worked together with artist Anita Staff to create thought provoking images and text that challenge the stigma surrounding mental health.

They used photography as a visual language to express their experiences with being in contact with mental health services and lack of awareness and understanding within the wider community.

Comments from the film launch:

“Although some of the images are dealing with difficult aspects of mental health, the overwhelming impression the film leaves you with is positive and inspiring”.

“A fantastic piece of work which needs to be seen by everyone”!

“A fantastic project enabling young people to freely express themselves”.

“Excellent mesmerising film, must be promoted fully”.

“This film is beautiful and optimistic”.

“Very powerful, loved the use of distorted pictures/negatives to portray different views/experiences of the world”.

“This is a fantastic way to demonstrate the reality of living with ill mental health. Fantastic creativity, I need to see it any more times. Thanks for getting it out there”.

“Extremely compelling piece of work”.

“Very moving, a huge impact on my views”.

“Makes you aware of mental health and wellbeing”.

“The images ? fantastically with the voices behind this excellent work. I think it will help others to relate in a different way to the word ‘mental than they did before”.

“I though it was beautiful and moving – beautiful literally, the colours and images were very striking, moving, because it expressed feelings that both surprised and informed me”.

“I was gobsmacked! Such an mazing and inspiring film. Its something that must be shared and shared. Beautiful and educational well done to all involved”.

“I thought the video was superb and really made me think about people struggling with problems that I don’t think about”.

Lucy said: "The photography project has helped my confidence. It made me have a better view of myself because other people had similar ideas and opinions. Friends and family saw my pictures and text and were really proud of me which made me feel proud of myself like I have done something good. Doing something I enjoy as a hobby made it even more special and personal. It has made me feel better about myself and want other people to understand more."

“I was able to take pictures and release feelings in that way”. Said Katie Lousie. (18) “I got to express how I felt in a new and enjoyable way. I didn’t have confidence to try things before but with photography you can do it in your own time, and you are in control - Its made me want to get into photography and I am about to start on a photography course”.

“Photography can offer opportunities to explore how you see yourself, how others see you and how you wish to be seen. It can offer respite from distressing symptoms and an opportunity for distraction and can be used as a tool for self expression” says Anita Staff, commissioned by the trust to design and facilitate the project” “Within a participatory project people become photographers and remain in control of their own activities. The stigmatisation and discrimination surrounding mental health only adds to negative self-perceptions - this project increased creative thinking and empowered the individuals. Ultimately, it’s about being given a choice, a voice and a chance to influence change. It enabled the participants to enter into dialogue about their own perceptions and experiences, and ultimately address people’s prejudices”.

Karen Wheeler, service manager for Children and Young Peoples Services at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust says “The mental health trust supported this project because young people have consistently told us that the biggest barrier to seeking help early is the stigma and fear associated with mental illness. It was important to empower young people to have their say in their own way, on their own terms. The film that they have made is a powerful and emotional statement drawing on their own experiences. I feel confident that they will have a positive impact on reducing stigma”.