#SpeakYourMind: New film being launched in Leeds to raise awareness of mental health

Production: The filming project yesterday at Prime Studios in Leeds.
Production: The filming project yesterday at Prime Studios in Leeds.
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Give life a chance.

That’s the call from a talented group of actors who, during Mental Health Awareness Week, are creating a new film to raise awareness about the effects suicide can have on those left behind.

Actor Simon Hannah, from Halifax.

Actor Simon Hannah, from Halifax.

Recording for the #Helpme short film took place at Prime Studios in Kirkstall yesterday six months after the project first began.

It follows several fictional people who have taken their own lives, and the devastating effects that decision can have on their loved ones.

Cast, crew and organisers hope the film will raise awareness about mental health support available and encourage people to share their problems - a key part of the YEP’s #SpeakYourMind campaign which launched in October.

Katie Ross, film director and owner of IPM Acting Academy, which supplied the actors and created the film idea, told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “We started this as a project in class and developed the roles over a number of months.

“There’s so many people that have mental health issues.

“The hope is that people on both sides who are feeling suicidal, or know someone who seems different, to talk about it - there are people out there who genuinely care.”

Featuring 25 actors, the 15-minute film highlights that a range of people - regardless of gender, age or occupation - can be affected by mental health issues.

Actors, crew members and businesses volunteered their time to organise the project and produce the not-for-profit film to raise awareness.

The YEP is also raising awareness about the need to break down the damaging social stigma surrounding mental health issues in Leeds as part of our #SpeakYourMind campaign.

The film will be released in July, and be distributed on the internet, as well as regional television channels and possibly cinemas.

Actor Simon Hannah, who in the past grappled with depression himself, hopes the film will now encourage others to speak out.

The 43-year-old, from Halifax, is a member of the acting academy in Leeds now and works as a children’s entertainer. He said: “Some time ago I went through the typical phases of feeling low and depression.

“This film is now enabling me to put back in to the system, and get the word out that you have to talk and say what you feel.

“Mental health is coming into society more but it can be a tricky subject to put across.

“I hope that the film will enable people to speak out about it and ask for help.”

The filming project has been supported by Rossi Pictures, the Northern Retro, Picture The Print, MADE TV and local businesses in Leeds.

Naj Modak, who is publicising and acting in the film, said: “The film is basically trying to show that this can affect anyone.

“It’s not just about the people who take their own life, but it’s about their friends, families, colleagues.

“It’s something people don’t want to talk about or they find it difficult.

“But it’s saying you need to talk and there are people out there who can help. Give life a chance.

“There are people out there who care. Some people don’t know a lot about mental health issues, they want to help but it is difficult for them to understand and we want to raise awareness.”

Organisers are trying to raise money online and have set up a funding page to help cover the costs of the filming, equipment and production.

To support the film, or for more information, visit www.gofundme.com and search ‘helpmeproduction’.

How to get help

In Leeds, anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide can access a bereavement service.

The Leeds Suicide Bereavement Service, funded by Leeds City Council, is being run by Leeds Survivor-Led Crisis Service and Leeds Mind.

Visit www.leedssbs.org.uk for details about the support available.

Mental Health Awareness Week is also taking place this week.

Running until Sunday, the national initiative is calling on people to break down stigma.

It is being organised by the Mental Health Foundation and this year the theme is ‘Surviving or Thriving’.

Throughout the week, people can share what they are doing for Mental Health Awareness week by using the hashtag #MHAW17 on social media.

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