Tag: Mental Health


Films That Have Supported My Mental Health

October 5, 2020
Almost Famous

1 in 6 people will report to experiencing a common mental health problem, such as anxiety and depression. I am one of those people, and it’s only something I have really come to terms with this year, despite being fully aware of my mental health issues long before.

The first time I felt truly aware, was during my first year of university. I slept too little or too long, I didn’t leave my room for fear of bumping into any other person, I flipped my mattress several times a night to check for creatures and I didn’t eat until my body was desperate. I kept everything hidden, as best as I could (minus a few sobbing phone calls to friends and family).

Since that year, and since my official diagnosis, I have worked hard to not let myself get into that position again. Focusing on writing when I feel like I could tackle it. Staying on top of cleaning as best as I can, pushing myself to do the washing when the pile is too high. There are days though where all I can do, is watch something comforting and try again tomorrow.

These are the films that have helped me through my toughest times.

Almost Famous

Zoey Deschanel in Almost Famous
Zoey Deschanel in Almost Famous (Credit: Dreamworks)

I remember watching this once when I was younger and never managing to remember the name of the film. It spent years in the back of my mind until one day I saw an advert where at the end, Zooey Deschanel is looking into the main character’s eyes and saying ‘Anywhere you want to go. Anywhere in the world‘. That’s where I rediscovered what I class as my favourite individual film.

Based on real-life experiences by director Cameron Crowe, the story follows a teenager called William and his futile attempt to get an interview with fictional band Stillwater for Rolling Stone magazine. For me, this is a story of how a family can be the one you’re given and the one you make along the way. It’s a love letter to music and how it can connect you to the most unexpected people. How sometimes, even when it doesn’t seem like it, life will find a way to make it up to you.

There is a comfort I have when watching this film. It reminded me of home, how my friend and I used to sing along to the infamous Tiny Dancer scene (is there a better scene in that film?) when I was far away. As Kate Hudson utters the line ‘It’s all happening‘ with such ease, it reminded me that life was continuing on without me and it was time to start living it, even if that meant putting on something other than pyjamas.

Legally Blonde

Legally Blonde - Reese Witherspoon
Legally Blonde starring Reese Witherspoon (Credit: MGM)

Let me preface this by saying, I am not ashamed of my love for Legally Blonde and feminist icon (you can’t tell me otherwise) Elle Woods. What you think starts off as a usual romantic comedy, complete with upbeat pop music as the opening credits roll, ends with the best kind of vengeance – Elle outgrowing the person she thought she would spend her life with and becoming successful in her own right.

A supposed trope of the ‘dumb blonde’, Elle Woods (played by Reese Witherspoon) turns that stereotype upside down. Okay, so she follows her ex-boyfriend Warner to Harvard Law school in the hopes of winning him back – but she stays focused on her goals throughout. She quickly moves past wanting to be with Warner, and aims to show up those who thinks of her as less than. She works hard and never deviates from the goals she sets herself.

This film inspires me to push myself beyond the boundaries I set myself. Beyond the comfort zones I can become easily accustomed to. To not change myself to fit into others expectations. Every time I watch this film, I feel like it’s time to be productive, to start trying again.

Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring cast (credit: New Line Cinema)

Sometimes, you need to be removed far from reality as possible. Sometimes, you need to find comfort in a story that couldn’t happen (really) in the life you’re living. Sometimes, you need to be immersed in a story that you’ve loved since childhood. For some, that’s Star Wars or Harry Potter. For me, it’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Maybe it’s the familiarity – how I know the lines, the music, the characters before Cate Blanchett has a chance to speak in the opening prologue. Maybe it’s the idyllic Shire – how bright it is, how peaceful it seems, how even I seem to want to go home to it. Maybe it’s the moment when Aragorn arrives at Helm’s Deep and opens the door with such a flourish that everyone does a tiny swoon. Something brings me back to Middle-Earth each time I feel like I need a true escape.

It brings a sense of comfort that no other film can bring me. I still cry at the scenes I’ve always cried at, get angry at the scenes I’ve always yelled at (you’re right next to Mount Doom Frodo, you know Samwise won’t make it home, you monster), and continue to watch the battle scenes with such hope for the heroes, even when I know the outcome. I become so engrossed in the film, that for the next three (or nine, depending on if I’m watching them all) hours, nothing else matters – all that matters is this ragtag Fellowship destroying the One Ring and stopping evil from taking over their homes.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what we’re all trying to do? Stop ourselves from being overwhelmed by the negativity and focus on the things that make us appreciative. For Frodo, it’s Gandalf’s fireworks and the lights in the Party Tree. For Samwise, it’s Rosie Cotton dancing. For me, it’s this trilogy of films that have been there for me in the worst of times.

Also Read: Cinema Therapy: How Movies Can Heal

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Interview: Dr Parvinder Shergill Talks Mental Health & Movies

June 1, 2020
Dr Parvinder Shergill - Big Picture Film Club

Dr Parvinder Shergill is a psychiatrist working within the National Health Service, she is also an actor, writer, producer & director. In her interview with us she discussed mental health portrayal in films, the Covid-19 pandemic, her acting journey and upcoming projects.

Watch the full interview below

Dr. Parvinder Shergill (The Secret Psychiatrist) Discussess Mental Health & Movies

Dr Parvinder Shergill (The Secret Psychiatrist) is a psychiatrist working within the National Health Service, she is also an actor, writer & producer. In her interview with us, she discussed mental health portrayal in films, the Covid-19 pandemic, her acting journey and upcoming projects.(apologies for any issues with sound)

Gepostet von Big Picture Film Club am Montag, 1. Juni 2020
Dr Parvinder Shergill (The Secret Psychiatrist)

You can support Dr Parvinder Shergill’s next film “Phantoms” via the film’s Indiegogo Campaign

Also Read: Almost 9 in 10 People in the Film & TV Industry Have Experienced A Mental Health Problem

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Almost 9 in 10 People in the Film & TV industry Have Experienced A Mental Health Problem

February 25, 2020

Whether it’s helping during the pre-production, working on-set or doing the promotion, working in the film and television industry is the dream job for many of us. However, the creative industry can be a very hard one to work in. The long and irregular hours, the doubts about having the next project and an uneven work-family balance can result in many sleepless hours and stressful days. According to The Looking Glass, the report from Film and TV Charity, this sadly also causes mental health issues. Time to act!

Alarming results

The survey of Film and TV Charity was filled in by 9,399 respondents. Based on the big amount of participation, it’s clear that people working in the creative industry want to address mental health issues. After analysing the responses, it becomes clear why.

According to the survey, 87% of the people working in film, television, and cinema had to deal with a mental health problem. This is 22% more than all the people across the UK (65%). The amount of people who experienced depression is lower but equally devastating. While 42% of the people nation-wide already had to deal with it, 65% of people working in the creative industry had to overcome depression. What’s even more worrying is the number of people that deliberately harmed themselves (24% people working in the creative industry versus 7% nationwide) or tried to take their own life (55% of the respondents versus 20% of people nationally).

The Looking Glass report
Source: Film and Television charity
The Looking Glass report
Credit: The Film and Television Charity

Worrisome working conditions

The biggest element that contributes to the shocking numbers are the working conditions. As mentioned before, the long hours are one of the factors. The survey concludes that more than 1 in 8 respondents work more than 60 hours per week (versus in other 1 out of 50 in other industries). 57% of them also mentioned that they don’t have enough control over their working hours and that it harms their wellbeing and mental health. The work-life balance is also a significant problem. People can’t spend time with family or can’t have a relaxing day. According to the survey, the stress increased immensely during the last few years due to the intensifying of the workload.

Other frightening triggers

There are also other aspects that cause mental health issues. One of those is the working environment aka the culture. Probably one of the most disturbing results is that 56% of the people already experienced bullying and intimidating behaviour. On top of that, it’s difficult to speak out against inappropriate behaviour or to ask for help because of the power imbalance between the people. Another reason why it’s hard to speak up is that people (43%) are afraid to be judged by others if they know that they were experiencing mental health problems.

Another trigger is that people feel that they can’t get the right support to grow and learn.  This is causing even more stress, especially because of the lack of recognition. It becomes worse if people in the creative industry have to deal with vulnerable contributors or distressing or challenging content. In both cases, they don’t get the mental support they need to look after their wellbeing.

Three main solutions to help out

Based on the survey, there would be many solutions to decrease the number of people having to deal with mental problems. The three main solutions would be one-on-one support, support at work and peer support. The reason why one-on-one support isn’t functioning as it should be is the cost. To decrease the cost, the survey identified solutions such as the possibility of therapy co-located at studios, post houses and other large employers and also digital options (video calls, computer-based CBT, etc). It’s incredibly important the people can get support at work. This can be getting access to resources both managers and employees could use to have a conversation about mental health issues. The most important resource that’s already available is the Wellness Action Plans by the mental health charity, Mind. Having more peer support would result in acceptance, the increase of self-confidence and the development of more skills.

The Looking Glass report
Source: Film and Television charity

Also Read: Netflix By The Numbers

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Episode 004 The Big Picture Film Club Podcast ft Tim Porter & Kadeem Boyce

November 14, 2017

Friends of BPFC, director Tim Porter and actor Kadeem Boyce give us the lowdown on holding down jobs whilst manoeuvring through the film industry, Haven – Tim’s film screened at one of our earlier screenings, and the issue of mental health within the entertainment industry.

Listen on our Soundcloud channel and don’t forget to like, follow and share!

Episode 004 ft Tim Porter & Kadeem Boyce