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Belfast teens launch film addressing mental health worries

Thursday 11th October 2018 at 2pm 0 Comments ARTiculate Young People & Wellbeing Arts Programme

Pictured are Lorraine Calderwood (Arts Council of Northern Ireland), Jade Hale (KIC), Sharon Curran (Public Health Agency) Nick Livingston (Arts Council of Northern Ireland) with some of the group involved in the project. Image: Pictured are Lorraine Calderwood (Arts Council of Northern Ireland), Jade Hale (KIC), Sharon Curran (Public Health Agency) Nick Livingston (Arts Council of Northern Ireland) with some of the group involved in the project.

A group of Belfast teenagers launched a short film on World Mental Health Day examining serious mental health issues, including online bullying and suicide and where young people can seek help.  

The film has been developed by west-Belfast based Suicide Awareness and Support Group and art organisation Kids in Control (KIC), and the makers hope it will help raise awareness, reduce stigma and build resilience among young people.

More than 80 teenagers from communities across Belfast have participated in the project, which looked at social media and the impact it can have on health and wellbeing.  The group, who were invited to take part through schools, youth clubs and community centres, decided on the film’s themes, created the script,  and perform in the 13-minute piece.

The project is one of 27 so far to have received funding as part of ARTiculate, a three-year £600,000 programme funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland National Lottery funds and the Public Health Agency (PHA), which uses artists and the arts to give a voice to issues affecting young people.

The short film will be screened for the first time on the 10th October at a special reception in the Old Museum Arts for the teenagers and their families, before being released online through social media.

Melissa Seawright, Suicide Awareness and Support Group supervisor and trainer, explained.

“I am really proud of the work all the young people have done and how much passion they have to help prevent suicide.  This film brings to light real issues that young people are facing every day. We need to start educating them at a young age about these issues, their voices are a powerful source in the community.”

Kids in Control delivers physical theatre outreach programmes in the community, exploring and devising material around issues that are relevant and important to participants.  Jade Hale, Artistic Director, commented:

“The group has worked very hard over the past ten months, sharing their own personal stories and developing this film to ensure that the messages are on target and relevant to their peers. Everyone involved has shown excellent commitment, courage, team work, openness and creativity in tackling this urgent and important issue. The next step now is to launch it on social media to reach as wide an audience as possible.”

Lorraine Calderwood, ARTiculate Programme Manager, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented:

“The positive links between engagement in the arts and wellbeing are firmly established.  Working together with the Public Health Agency, the Arts Council is supporting a diverse range of projects right across Northern Ireland that open up opportunities for young people to engage in the arts and the many benefits that brings, such as promoting self-expression, and developing self-confidence and self-motivation.

“The young people involved in this programme have bravely come together to address some very difficult issues head on. Working with Kids In Control they’ve been able to take part in a really enjoyable project, bond together as a group, and develop some really valuable life skills.”

Fiona Teague, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Manager with the PHA, said:

“The ARTiculate programme is a great example of how the arts can be used by young people to explore difficult issues that are important to them and their peers. The PHA recognises the positive impact that the arts can play in improving the mental health and wellbeing of our young people. The film highlights these issues vividly and honestly, and shows the importance of speaking to a friend or family member.  We are delighted that this film stresses the importance of young people reaching out for support when needed.” 

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