Sunday 12 February 2017

Speaking Up, a Film about Mental Health

Yesterday I was privileged to attend the premiere screening of Speaking Up at Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema. This was the first in what is to be a series of short films “exploring young people’s experiences of mental health issues by producing and creating their own shorts to convey powerful, practical messages.”

Running a little under twenty minutes, the film certainly delivers. The first part really opened my eyes to the realities of living with anxiety. The team then took to the streets of Newcastle to interview members of the public. Having volunteered on those same streets for last year’s Newcastle Mental Health Day, I was interested to hear what people had to say.

Folk were asked what terms such as “mental health issues,” “anxiety,” and “depression” meant to them. I found it encouraging that so many felt able to share their opinions, concerns and personal experiences to camera. I got the sense most were unused to having the opportunity to do so.

Several spoke of stigma, and the need for more to be done for those living with mental illness. There is clearly still a way to go, but this is the sort of thing which helps break down barriers. One person suggested stigma is perhaps less prevalent in the younger generation. Initiatives such as Speaking up bring hope that things can change, by giving younger people the opportunity to share their lived experience in ways directly meaningful to them, and to a wider audience.

Kudos to Sharon Race, Alisdair Stewart Cameron, and the whole Speaking Up team for what they are doing. Sharon commented:

Speaking Up is important to highlight that young people also live with mental health issues which they want to speak out about. The participants were so wonderful to work with — creative, clever and witty. We are pleased to announce Launchpad have secured funding for Speaking Up Too, which will take place in the Summer holidays.

I invited my friend Carol Robinson to share her thoughts about the screening:

The short film was made this summer It was great to be an extra and to see the great work Sharon Race completed. The interviews on the streets of Newcastle were intriguing. It was good to see discrimination around mental health is being tackled so positively, and the public attitude is so positive and honest.

UPDATE: Speaking up was shown as an introduction to the main features at the MiLAN - Medicine in Literature and the Arts at Newcastle film festival starting on Monday 11 February.

UPDATE: Speaking Up is now available to watch on YouTube.

If you would like to know more about this initiative, or fancy getting involved, check out the Speaking Up Facebook page.

Organised by Launchpad, Speaking Up runs free film making workshops for 15-25 year olds in Tyne & Wear on the 5th Floor of Broadacre House, Market Street, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 6HQ. Speaking Up is funded by the Community Foundation Tyne & Wear.




  1. ....thank you for sharing your experience with us Marty. i have found that when i am "vulnerable" and share my ups and downs with some of the issues brought up it certainly disarms others and creates a "invitation" to fellowship.. if you will. I am not surprised but for sure my heart is touched to know that people responded well to being approached... again... an "invitation" to share ... although we sit up a bit taller at the not only the discussion but the outcome, of course - we can say there is a thread of willingness to embrace the invitation and experience some comeraderie in what for so much of the time is an intentionally avoided conversation let alone loving embrace. <3

    1. Thank you for sharing your thougths, Andi. It is indeed a proufound thing when one dares to be vulnerable and find people respond in positive ways. I have mostly found that to be true when I have shared my own experiences -- although of course I am aware that not everyone will find that to be true. I know calls to "let's talk about it" can place a lot of the emphasis on those living with illness (or whatever the situation might be) to dare to reach out, when (a) they might not feel at all comfortable doing so and (b) may not feel it is their responsibility to help educate those -- like me -- who are on the "other side" of the well-ill divide. But I will continue to hold myself open as possible to when others feel willing and able to talk, and in turn, to share my own story in the hope it can help.


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