Over 80 people attended a Bedfordshire CAMHS Film Showcase at Bedford Vue on 15 May to view films and animations made in collaboration with young people who have used CAMHS services. The event marked Mental Health Awareness Week and also featured music and poetry from young people.
The event attracted local professionals working in education, mental health care, paediatric hospital teams, youth workers and charity sector groups - all who support young people in the county in some way.
Jo Meehan, CAMHS Clinical Group Manager and Niki Scott, CAMHS Service User Participation Lead, introduced the event and talked through how the films came to be made. The films covered issues such as Exam Stress, Eating Disorders, Depression in Children and Child Sexual Exploitation. The films were powerful and moving. The young people involved introduced each film prior to the screening to set the scene and say why they had wanted to be involved.
The Voice of Young People
The young people came together for a Q&A panel after the screenings to take questions from the audience. Along with the performers, they relished the opportunity to talk about their journey. Some of them have presented their films in school assemblies and at events.
One of them said: "Just want to thank you for your constant support, care and providing us with the opportunities to do things such as tonight. I loved tonight and everything else I've been involved with. I'm so grateful for the opportunities and very luck to have someone like you always looking out for me."
Rob Marchment, Support Worker Hospital Outreach Education at the Bedford Inclusive Learning and Training Trust was blown away by the event. He has encapsulated his experience below as an attendee and summarised his thoughts on each film:
The experience of being 'looked in the eye' by Aliza, as she shared her story of tangling with stress and anxiety, was to hear an account so filled with applicable advice, honesty, integrity and power. Speaking directly to us, through the camera lens, Aliza demonstrated a total transparency about the issues she has faced. She offered so much optimism and genuine encouragement.
Kirsty's description of living with anorexia brought vividly to life by a highly inventive animation was a complete eye-opener. Such a personal and profoundly human account of this most arduous of journeys that was, Thankfully made easier by the support of concerned family members and health professionals. The sound of Kirsty's voice and the sight of her addressing tonight's audience, was to witness this young woman in the glow of recovery fashioned by her own hand.
"Joe's Story", a gem from the CHUMS film studio, was not only a superb piece of film making, with an excellent ensemble cast of great actors, but was a true clarion call for an end to the 'strong and silent' male stereotype. It seemed like a plea for all young people to feel free to open up, to express and, thereby, be liberated from their darkness.
Music and Poetry Performance
The combined personalities, and creative talents of poetry and song, of Sammi and Krystal, confirmed and grounded all that had gone before. We heard of the journey made, at the Bedfordshire Recovery College and its creativity group, through reluctance, acceptance, discovery and finally celebration. Here were two immensely powerful voices, speaking and singing of strength and redemption, of emergence and new beginnings.
"It was a very unique and special experience - well put together, exceedingly informative and deeply moving. The work of the performers, speakers, animators and film makers was of the highest, innovative quality."
"What a night, what a spectacle, what a show of what the human spirit is capable of! Thank you to all your guests and performers for convincing us that a better day is always possible."
"Thank you so much. Was such a fantastic and inspiring event. I have shared it with my place of work and will also be sharing with my children. Well done to all of you involved and look forward to attending again."
"I just wanted to say, what an AMAZING evening the CAMHS film showcase was!!! I thoroughly enjoyed my evening and I’m so proud of the young people and their creativity; not to mention their strength and resilience. What an amazing group of young people. It was refreshing to attend an event that highlights their excellence."