On the eve of Mental Health Awareness Week, four short films made for BBC Scotland by Track Record Productions featuring well-known Scots talking about their mental health premiered at the Scottish Mental Health Arts Festival. The In My Mind films explore experiences around anxiety, depression and self harm and how we can approach mental health differently. Talking Heads reporter Suzanne Griffin writes about how they challenge stigma and promote positive messages.

‘If they can do it, I can get on with this.’

Paralympian Samantha Kinghorn perfectly captured the overwhelming feeling from watching the In My Mind short films. These are the stories of four well-known Scots, openly discussing their own experiences of mental health. The words of actor Gavin Mitchell, paralympian Samantha Kinghorn, footballer David Cox and model Misha Hart, ring out with a sense of hope and moving forward. Speaking honestly, each takes us through the ups and downs of anxiety and depression while sharing the techniques they use to care for their daily mental wellbeing.

To start us off, Gavin Mitchell spoke very frankly about how he can feel, stating that sometimes: ‘I can be completely and utterly numb.’ By sharing this, he connects with everyone, as we all have good days and bad days. Although these feelings can be overwhelming, over the years he has developed coping strategies to challenge his negative thoughts. Mental health issues can occur at any point, in any person’s life and be brought on by a number of reasons.

‘Isolated’ is one way Samantha described how she feels at times. This theme of feeling alone is weaved throughout each individual’s story, but, after hearing them speak so sincerely about similar themes, the feeling of togetherness was evermore present. Kinghorn continued to discuss that as an athlete, the pressure to do well and make people proud are common thoughts to occur. Following on, she talked about focusing on the ‘controllables’ – there are many things outwith our control, so we should focus on what is controllable.

Next, we heard from David Cox, who spoke very openly about self-harm and suicide. These are things that affect lots of people but due to the upsetting nature of the topics they can sometimes be avoided in public discussions. Cox’s film was genuine and uplifting, seeing someone so positive and emotionally honest about mental health. The honesty in each film was inspiring, but particularly poignant in David’s film. With each topic discussed in the films, the feeling of not being alone was universal. Promoting conversation about not feeling ashamed, to seek help and remember you are never alone.

The closing film had us end on a note of positive self-love from Misha Hart. She spoke about how she challenges herself, keeps pushing forward but can also admit when she needs a break. When talking about how she opened up to people around her about her mental health, there were only positive words. It was wonderful to see someone so young and influential being honest and direct about their mental health.

A collection of shorts like this is a great example of what we need more of more regularly. Showing that it doesn’t matter what you do professionally, anyone can be affected by mental health. It is very relatable and a positive message about taking care of yourself and opening up to others. This is key to raising mental health awareness and breaking the stigma.

Hearing well-known people say they have felt similar to how you have felt is reassuring. Realising you are not the only one to have felt a certain way or been through a particular problem brings a sense of relief and compassion. The evening ended with hopes that if everyone can be little more honest and understanding, conversations about mental health will no longer be unheard.

by Suzanne Griffin

Suzanne is 25, lives in Glasgow and can make you a good coffee. She enjoys animation, would one day like to hug a panda and is a big supporter of the festival and mental health causes.

Watch the In My Mind films here: 

 Gavin Mitchell

 Misha Hart

 David Cox

 Samantha Kinghorn