Flinders film students and mental health micro-documentaries

Visualising Mental Health (VMH) is a UniSA project, run by the Team at Match Studio and the lecturers of GRAP 3006 (Communication Design).

I used to be a staff member at UniSA. I worked in the now defunct (rebranded?) Population Health group. It was during my time at UniSA that I met the Match Studio crew and the idea for VMH was born.

Since leaving UniSA in 2017, I’ve remained attached to the VMH project as something approximating an ‘external consultant’. I do the work on my own time, including managing this website. I do this because I deeply value the initiative.

The concept that underpins VMH is a simple one. A discipline like psychology that has accumulated a large knowledge-base about what it means to be human, should be sharing that knowledge with the wider public. In VMH we do that by getting Communication Design students to grapple with mental health concepts and then find innovative ways to communicate those concepts to a wider audience. All the projects you find on this website are examples of what these students come up with.

I am always however on the lookout for other opportunities to communicate mental health concepts to a broader audience.

So I am very chuffed that I have potentially found another outlet here at my current workplace – Flinders University.

At Flinders University, I work as the eMental Health Project Officer – where I write and teach about mental health, mental fitness, wellbeing and productivity. The goal is to give students the skills and knowledge necessary to do well at their studies, but also manage their mental health, now and into the future.

A common part of my job is giving presentations to different cohorts of students. Those presentations cover things like mental fitness, self-care, stress management and helpful services and programs. These are generally well received but it is a very passive format. Students sit and listen to me and with the exception of the occasional group exercise or question, there is little interaction with the material. As such, I’ve been looking for more interactive formats, more like the work we do with the Communication Design students.

Thanks to a collaboration with Tom Young here at Flinders (Lecturer in Screen Production, Creative Arts Honours Coordinator), we are getting 2nd year Film Students to create micro-documentaries on 5 mental health topics: emotions, courtesy, mental fitness, empathy and climate change distress. The hope is that getting students to engage with these topics, as part of mastering their own craft (film-making), will enhance their interaction with the topics.

The reasoning behind this is that mental health is something that intersects with all aspects of our life. So what better way to teach it then to give students the chance to explore how it intersects with their area of interest/ expertise.

The students were just (last week) given the briefs on each of the topics. We used 5 topics that are also being used in the VMH 2020 project.  They now have until early April to get their first edit completed which Tom and I will provide feedback on.

All going well, we hope to feature these micro-documentaries around the university when completed.

I’ll provide updates on here about how it goes.