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It’s estimated that as many as 10% of children aged 5-16 years have a clinically diagnosable mental health problem; yet 70% of adolescents who experience such issues will not have had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.
Talking to young people about mental health and related issues is essential to reduce stigma, support those who experience short or long term problems, and – equally importantly – encourage positive mental health and wellbeing so that problems are less likely to develop.
Film is an ideal means of breaking the ice and starting the conversation. Into Film has a great selection of titles and resources which address this sensitive subject; movies are available free to all schools with an Into Film Club.
Titles for secondary include Moonrise Kingdom (12), Short Term 12 (15), Benny and Joon (12), A Beautiful Mind (12), Love and Mercy (12A), What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (12), Silver Linings Playbook, (15), Submarine (15) and Amy (15).
The organisation’s ‘Wellbeing – A Guide to Risky Behaviour’ resource uses selected films and activities to give young people a chance to discuss, in a non-personal, non-judgemental way, issues such as smoking, sex and relationships, drinking alcohol and taking illegal drugs. Also on offer are films and film-based resources that can be used to explore themes of bullying, identity, belonging and integration, disability and LGBT.
Here are three films Into Film recommends for opening up discussions on mental health.
An invisible white rabbit named Harvey is the unlikely hero of this 1950s comedy. He’s the best friend of Elwood P Dowd, a good-natured drunk whose family is trying to have him committed at the local asylum.
This deceptively lighthearted film is built around the whimsical conceit of Elwood’s friendship with Harvey – but it still has a lot to say about family, society, and what it is to be lonely.
Elwood P Dowd is a mild-mannered man whose choice of company – a large white rabbit named Harvey – represents an inconvenience for his sister.
Neglected by her alcoholic mother, eight-year-old Mary Daisy Dinkle is desperate for company. Picking a name at random from a directory, she becomes unlikely pen pals with Max Jeremy Horowitz – a depressed, obese 44-year-old who has Asperger’s Syndrome. A touching correspondence of 20 years ensues in this unforgettable full-length claymation.
Lonely Mary is desperate for a friend, and when one day she sends a letter to a total stranger, she makes a much bigger impact on both their lives than she bargained for.
This remarkable documentary tells the life story of the late singer/songwriter Amy Winehouse. Using a variety of film footage, we are with Amy from shy young teenager awkwardly messing around at parties, to international sensation and her struggles with fame, eating disorders and addiction.
Her extraordinary voice is heard throughout, resulting in a sombre, but heartfelt tribute to one of the most significant cultural figures of the 21st century.
Talented artist Amy Winehouse made a huge impression on the world with her soulful music, but the effect of her fame was difficult to handle.
Into Film is a UK-wide organisation which puts film at the heart of young people’s education and personal development, through a network of extra-curricular film clubs, curriculum-linked and enrichment teaching resources, filmmaking opportunities, educator training, a free cinema based youth film festival, and annual awards. For information or to start a free Into Film Club, download resources or sign up for free training visit intofilm.org.
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