For part of my research for my FMP is mental health as this is the main theme in my short film. As well as having a friend who I can gain primary research through I have devised some back ground research around what it is to have mental health issues, what it is, and what triggers it. In this research I will also be looking at the awareness of mental health and the campaigns around it such as Mental Health Week.
Mental Health by Medilexicon’s medical definition:
Mental health is; “emotional, behavioural and social maturity or normality; the absence of a mental or behavioural disorder; a state of psychological well-being in which one has achieved a satisfactory integration of one’s instinctual drives acceptable to both oneself and one’s social milieu; an appropriate balance of love, work, and leisure pursuits”.
A slightly different take on the meaning of mental health by the World Health Organization:
The World Health Organization stress that mental health “is not just the absence of mental disorder”. It can be;
“a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community”.
What is mental health and what does it mean to have it?
‘Mental health refers to our cognitive, and/or emotional wellbeing – it is all about how we think, feel and behave. Mental health, if somebody has it, can also mean an absence of a mental disorder. Your mental health can affect your daily life, relationships and even your physical health. Mental health also includes a person’s ability to enjoy life – to attain a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. ‘
I wanted to do my film on mental health as I have witnessed a close friend go through mental issues first hand and it is something you just don’t think will ever happen to you or anyone you know but the fact is ‘Approximately 25% of people in the UK have a mental health problem during their lives, and the USA is said to have the highest incidence of people diagnosed with mental health problems in the developed world.’ We all go about our daily lives and yet someone who we speak to/see on a daily basis may be dealing or have dealt with mental health issues, so what better way than to make people aware so that they can recognise and even be there for someone as it can take just one little comment/incident to push someone over the edge and snap. It can be the most unlikely person you can think of that will or has developed a mental problem ‘We all have the potential for suffering from mental health problems, no matter how old we are, whether we are male or female, rich or poor, or ethnic group we belong to. In the UK over one quarter of a million people are admitted into psychiatric hospitals each year, and more than 4,000 people kill themselves. They come from all walks of life.’
This alone is a scary fact but there are many forms and levels of mental problems some of which we may have ourselves but don’t think of them as mental issues:
- Anxiety disorders – the most common group of mental illnesses. The sufferer has a severe fear or anxiety which is linked to certain objects or situations. Most people with an anxiety disorder will try to avoid exposure to whatever triggers their anxiety. Examples of anxiety disorders include:
- Panic disorder – the person experiences sudden paralyzing terror or imminent disaster.
- Phobias – these may include simple phobias – disproportionate fear of objects, social phobias – fear of being subject to the judgment of others, and agoraphobia – dread of situations where getting away or breaking free may be difficult. We really do not know how many phobias people may experience globally – there could be hundreds and hundreds of them.
- (OCD) Obsessive-compulsive disorder – the person has obsessions and compulsions. In other words, constant stressful thoughts (obsessions), and a powerful urge to perform repetitive acts, such as hand washing (compulsion).
- PSTD (Post-traumatic stress disorder) – this can occur after somebody has been through a traumatic event – something horrible and scary that the person sees or that happens to them. During this type of event the person thinks that his/her life or other people’s lives are in danger. The sufferer may feel afraid or feel that he/she has no control over what is happening.
- Mood disorders – these are also known as affective disorders or depressive disorders. Patients with these illnesses share disturbances or mood changes, generally involving either mania (elation) or depression. Experts say that approximately 80% of patients with depressive disorder improve significantly with treatment. Examples of mood disorders include:
- Major depression – the sufferer is not longer interested in and does not enjoy activities and events that he/she previously got pleasure from. There are extreme or prolonged periods of sadness.
- Bipolar disorder – also known as manic-depressive illness, or manic depression. The sufferer oscillates from episodes of euphoria (mania) and depression (despair).
- Dysthymia – mild chronic depression. Chronic in medicine means continuous and long-term. The patient has a chronic feeling of ill being and/or lack of interest in activities he/she once enjoyed – but to a lesser extent than in major depression.
- SAD (seasonal affective disorder) – a type of major depression. However, this one is triggered by lack of daylight. People get it in countries far from the equator during late autumn, winter, and early spring.
- Schizophrenia disorders Whether or not schizophrenia is a single disorder or a group of related illnesses has yet to be fully determined. It is a highly complex illness, with some generalizations which exist in virtually all patients diagnosed with schizophrenia disorders. Most sufferers experience onset of schizophrenia between 15 and 25 years of age. The sufferer has thoughts that appear fragmented; he/she also finds it hard to process information. Schizophrenia can have negative or positive symptoms. Positive symptoms include delusions, thought disorders and hallucinations. Negative symptoms include withdrawal, lack of motivation and a flat or inappropriate mood. (See the article “What is schizophrenia”)
The most common mental disorders/illnesses are coincidently are what my friend experienced which I can’t even begin to imagine how it would have felt having a combination of these three serious illnesses; Schizophrenia, Bipolar (manic depression/depressive illness), and Depression. ‘Approximately half of all people who suffer from a mental disorder probably suffer from another mental disorder at the same time, experts say.’
– (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/154543.ph – 18 Jun 2009 – by Christian Nordqvist)
So lets look into this a little more; ‘Most mental health symptoms have traditionally been divided into groups called either ‘neurotic’ or ‘psychotic’ symptoms. ‘Neurotic’ covers those symptoms which can be regarded as severe forms of ‘normal’ emotional experiences such as depression, anxiety or panic. Conditions formerly referred to as ‘neuroses’ are now more frequently called ‘common mental health problems. Less common are ‘psychotic’ symptoms, which interfere with a person’s perception of reality, and may include hallucinations such as seeing, hearing, smelling or feeling things that no one else can. Between one and two in every 100 people experience a severe mental illness, such as bi-polar disorder or schizophrenia, and have periods when they lose touch with reality. People affected may hear voices, see things no one else sees, hold unusual or irrational beliefs, feel unrealistically powerful, or read particular meanings into everyday events.’
My friend experience both ‘neurotic’ and ‘psychotic’ symptoms as she used to hear voices sometimes feeling like they were in her head and other times feeling like it was someone telling her to do something.
‘Mental health problems affect the way you think, feel and behave. Mental health problems are very common. About a quarter of the population experience some kind of mental health problem in any one year. Anxiety and depression are the most common problems, with around 1 in 10 people affected at any one time. Anxiety and depression can be severe and long-lasting and have a big impact on people’s ability to get on with life.’
There was a stage in my friends depression where for a very long time she felt utterly depressed with her life and felt like she had no meaning or significance as she had nothing key in her life and wasn’t moving forward, only causing her to spiral downwards even more so.
‘Although certain symptoms are common in specific mental health problems, no two people behave in exactly the same way when they are unwell.’
Certain stories and versions of events I had heard from her made me think that she was lying as they were so irrational, but I soon realised that everyone is different and we all react in different ways.
Mental Health Awareness Week
Mental Awareness Week started in 2001 pushing forward different topics each year for the public to absorb such as; fear, loneliness, work-life balance, anger, friendship, sleep, mood, exercise, out at work, and alcohol. This year in 2012 the topic was ‘Doing Good’ as doing good things for others can reduce stress, improve your emotional wellbeing and even benefit your physical health. It feels good to give and it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or even cost money. Here’s what they did for the campaign;
- They asked people to try and carry out one act of kindness every day and report back telling them on their Facebook page how it made them feel. http://www.facebook.com/mentalhealthawarenessweek
- They produced posters to use in schools, offices, hospitals and waiting rooms to raise even more awareness and get people thinking about what they can or are doing to improve/keep their mental health stabilised. Doing Good Poster
- They also published a pocket guide to show the positive impact helping others can have on people’s own mental health. (Which I have downloaded and plan to read)
Published: May 2012
It’s often said that it’s better to give than receive but did you know that this is actually backed up by research? As part of our work to help the nation lead mentally healthy lives, we have produced this pocket guide to show the positive impact that helping others can have on your own mental health, including some tips and suggestions to help you get started and a diary to keep track of how you’re getting on.
03 What is altruism?
04 What are the health benefits?
08 Things to consider before you start
10 What you can do
18 Doing good does you good diary
20 Useful organisations and information
*Stranded at a desolate Nevada motel during a nasty rainstorm, ten strangers become acquainted with each other when they realize that they’re being killed off one by one.* – IMDB
I’ve chosen to watch this film as it was one of the films mentioned in our seminar about mental health, and as one of my ideas is based on a true story of mental health I thought this would be a good film to watch and see how it is shot, looking at angles, focal lengths/pulls and the general shots and feel to the film.
At the beginning there are no establishing shots and a focus pull is used within the first 4 minutes to shift our focus from the telephone ringing to who then picks it up. All of the focal lengths and shots are quite close up and I think this makes it more intense as you are drawn to the personalities and recognise them as actual characters, so when things do start happening to them there is more of an element of shock, almost as if you knew that person. There are lots more elements used within this film to make it that more realistic for the audience , for example, there are a lot of pan and tracking shots when in the hotel rooms, making it feel as if you are there trapped and all you can do is look around to what is there, it captures the audiences attention and doesn’t let go. The angles of the shots also make you feel apart of the story as there are no birds eye view shots and definitely no over the head shots when the characters are stood up, most of the shots are level with the characters to create the feel that you are equal to them and put in in the same position. The other shots are from below looking up at an angle towards the characters, and as we don’t yet know who the murder is it makes us too, feel like we are victims of all this violence. The only long shots there is, is for place establishment for example when the cars are on the road you can see that they are in the middle of nowhere, and again with the motel establishing shot showing that it is isolated, and therefore making the audience feel even more trapped. The lighting is very intense with shadows on the face and at points with only light in the background or foreground forcing everything else to be cast in shadow or darkness, creating a real creepy and eerie atmosphere.
When planning shooting my film I will have to think very precisely about lighting as I will wan to it to be quite dark as it is a dark and deep story, I will also have to think about the close ups and focus pulls of objects and faces for more intensity, but not only this as I will have to consider the angles I want to use and why, to keep continuity through out the film, or could my film possibly be disjointed like the mind of someone who is mentally unwell? This film has given me a lot to think about in terms of planning and shooting my own film which is good as my ideas may/will change more than once to find a style that fits.