By Cloe Grampa

With the booming of the wellness culture, mental health is becoming a very important issue that is starting to make its way in the public agenda. Mental illness and disorders associated with mental health carry around stigmas that make it difficult to understand the severity of these issues and how they affect people. Mass media talks about the importance of optimizing mental wellbeing but the reality of living with mental illness is something that is not frequently talked about by mainstream media.

If it wasn’t for those people who are using social media platforms to raise awareness on mental illness, the subject would still be highly stigmatised.

As a student living in Brighton, I was curious to see how many people in this city were affected by mental illness, and I was shocked by the results. According to Brighton and Hove JSNA, GP surveys in Brighton and Hove report a total of 15.5% of patients 18 and over having depression or anxiety- that’s compared to the national average of 12.4%. Again, patients reporting a long-term mental health problem amounts to 8.3% in Brighton and Hove compared to 5.1% in the rest of England.

With so many suffering from poor mental health what is the community doing about it?

I had the pleasure to meet Helen James and Laura Waskinen the minds behind Uncovered Productions who will premier their first short movie “Mental Health and Body Image” February 5 at the Latest Music Bar in Brighton.

Helen and Laura are some of the few creators based in Brighton that decided to give a voice to those who live with mental illness and body image issues. During my interview with the pair, they both stressed how much of a delicate process it is to get people telling their experience of mental illness, and how they created a comfortable and safe environment.

Helen said: “Individually when people were coming into the studio, I was saying look, please only say what you feel comfortable saying, do not push yourself. In the end people were amazing.

“Everything was so overwhelming I had to take a couple of days off to process it all”.

I found Uncovered Productions to be an amazing project, a way to bring people together in order to show that mental illness, as well as, problems related to body image can be managed. 

What I find outstanding is how the project sought to give actual accounts of various disorders; often when people are suffering from depression and other mental health related issues, they might feel lost, misunderstood and alone. Showing on screen, that there are other people who are feeling the same way can be incredibly helpful in feeling less lonely and taking the first steps towards helping yourself.

If you are not coping and you want to take care of your mental health but don’t know how, the student life centre at the university offers advice on what option is best for you and your situation. 

Image credit: Pikrepo

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