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Psychosis on Screen challenges mental health preconceptions

12 July 2016

The Psychosis Health Integration Team (HIT) launch, which included Psychosis on Screen, a series of three contemporary films depicting various experiences of psychosis at Watershed, brought together more than 300 people to challenge viewers’ preconceptions of mental health.

On 27 June, the season culminated with In the Real, a documentary by local filmmaker and psychoanalyst in training Conor McCormack, which attracted 170 people. For the past three years, Conor has documented the Bristol Hearing Voices Network – a self-help group for people who hear voices and have other unusual experiences. The film, which depicts the experiences of these people in frank and unflinching detail, challenges both the viewer’s preconceptions of psychosis, and the mental health profession’s response to it. The screening was followed by a question and answer session with members of the Bristol Hearing Voices Network, giving the audience a unique opportunity to hear from the people in the film.

The season also included 2004’s Keane, starring Damien Lewis and introduced by Nathan Filer on the night, and the 1997 French documentary Every Little Thing, by Être et Avoir director Nicolas Philibert. Read the full report from the season (PDF).

Sarah Sullivan, Psychosis HIT Director, said:

"At the Psychosis HIT we felt that the film season and the launch was a great success. We were pleased that so many interested people came to watch the films and participate in discussions. We are very keen to involve service users and carers, as well as members of the public, in everything we do, because we feel it is the only way to improve understanding."

Mark Cosgrove, Watershed’s Cinema Curator, said:

“We are delighted to have had such strong audience numbers here at Watershed for this important season. Cinema lends itself to exploring and making accessible many challenging issues and this was a perfect example of how film can help to demystify people’s different experiences. It’s great to hear how the films really resonated with our audiences too.”

Attendees were asked what they learned about psychosis. Responses included:

“[I learned] that the experience of hearing voices can be enriching and can be a big part of individuals' identity and reflect their spiritual and world view. I have been very focused on helping people in their recovery from a medical perspective and less so in listening to and respecting their viewpoint.”
“It could be different for every individual. A person is not their behaviour.”

Feedback on In the Real included:

“The film 'in the real' was exceptionally good, was very real and I thank those service users who took the risk of exposing their suffering and being vulnerable so that the film could be made effectively.”
“Very inspiring film which highlighted the importance of providing individuals the space to explore their own understanding of their experience. It was a privilege to hear the stories of everyone involved in the film.”

The season generated a lot of local media interest:

People also engaged with the season through Twitter, with the hashtag #BHPpsychosis:

Psychosis on Screen challenges mental health preconceptions
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