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Film series puts mental illness in spotlight

Jodi Lewis and Donald Scott

A short film series highlighting the issues faced by those with mental illnesses was the subject of a special screening last night.

The Faces of Mental Illness series, produced by Think Media with the support of the Bermuda Mental Health Foundation, features interviews with five Bermuda residents who live with mental illness.

In each of the series, one of the subjects talks openly about their diagnosis, the challenges they face and how they — and the greater community — can overcome them.

Donald Scott, a director of the BMHF, said the series is hoped to assist the organisation both raise awareness of the issue and change the public perception of those with mental illnesses.

“The foundation believes that it is very, very important to change the nature of the conversation about mental illness in Bermuda,” he said.

Jodi Lewis, another director at BMHF, added that in addition to highlighting the challenges faced by those with mental illness, the organisation hopes the series will deliver a message of optimism to those who may be dealing with challenges, showing them that it is possible to live a normal life.

Ayo Johnson, independent journalist and Think Media founder, meanwhile said that he set out in 2014 to move forward with a project to tackle the stigma and prejudice towards mental health through a campaign, which would include a ten-film series.

During the development process, he said he came to a sponsorship agreement with BMHF to produce the first five videos, although he added that Think Media is still seeking additional sponsors to continue the series. “Once we unveil the programme, which should be in the next four weeks, we will be tackling with a lot more than personal stories,” he said.

“We will be investigating. We will be looking at systemic issues.”

Describing the series as a “triumph of independent journalism”, Mr Johnson said he was pleased to see those with mental illness willing to step forward and tell their story.

“It takes more than a little courage to sit in front of the cameras and answer these questions,” he said.