Film festival highlights mental health

THEY are health professionals by day, but when they knock off work, the team at Clarence Valley Mental Health slip into Steven Spielberg mode.

The group of nurses and health staff recently dedicated their spare time to creating a short film focused on mental health for the NSW Nurses Association's (NSWNA) Short Film Festival.

The five-minute film is called West of the Acopic Sea and it has been short-listed to the top 16 films from across the State at the festival.

Nurse Clem O'Sheehan helped organise staff into different roles, wrote, performed and recorded the soundtrack and co-edited the finished product.

He said it was important bring mental health issues into the spotlight.

“Mental health is something we all work with every day, so we designed the film around what we know,” he said.

“It's quite personal and we had a very professional team.”

Nurse unit manager, director and scriptwriter Lyn Jordan said the film looked at how the community could help people with mental illness by recognising signs of depression and listening to what people had to say.

“It's not like having a broken arm, going to the doctor to have it fixed in isolation,” she said.

“There is no magic wand.”

Lyn said the film looked at serious issues associated with mental health, including suicide, domestic violence and homicide.

She said as well as bringing mental health issues into the spotlight, the process of creating the five-minute film had the added bonus of bringing the group closer together.

“It turned out to be a great team building exercise,” she said.

The film was shot on location across the Clarence Valley in two weeks.

Lyn and Clem praised the work of the staff involved in the project.

Clem said the group was now keen to continue its film-making ways and enter more competitions, such as Tropfest and other film festivals.

Already, it is working towards developing two more films, one with the staff at Maclean District Hospital.

“We've definitely caught the bug,” he said.

“We have a very creative group of people.”

West of the Acopic Sea will be shown along with 15 other short-listed entries at the NSWNA Nurses Short Film Festival on May 13 in Sydney.

The winner will receive $5000, with the two runners-up each receiving $2000.

The winner will be announced on the night.



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