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‘Mental Elf’ kicks off Mental Health Awareness Week

Animated short films created by mental health service users from Cardiff had their premiere in the city yesterday (Monday 15 May) at a special event to kick off Mental Health Awareness Week.

Chapter Arts Centre in Canton was the venue for the screening of a series of honest, funny and sometimes irreverent animated films. Service users from the Council’s Ty Canna Mental Health Outreach Services created the films with Breathe Creative, documenting their experience of living with mental health problems.

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week (May 15 – 21) is based on the theme of ‘anxiety’, a normal emotion in us all that sometimes can get out of control and become a mental health problem.

The film project was funded by the National Lottery and The Arts Council of Wales and facilitated by therapeutic arts facilitator Katja Stiller, animator Jane Hubbard and composer Jacob Meadowcroft, with support from Elliot HS and Imogen Fallon from Ty Canna.

The films explore the reality of living with mental health problems and aim to raise awareness, dispel myths and challenge the discomfort many people feel around talking about such an important issue, which will directly affect 1 in 4 people during their lifetime.

The group has met weekly since July last year to write their scripts, learn animation techniques and create the final films – a selection of insightful and emotive individual stories, and Mental Elf, about a misbehaving elf which challenges the audience to think about their own mental health.

One participant commented: “With the help of groups and creative workshops like this one, we can take a tentative step back into socialising, having fun and being part of a supportive community!”

The Ty Canna service has recently started working with Brawd, a men’s mental health support group for Cardiff that offers help for men aged 18 and over.

It offers men struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issue a safe and confidential space to share their feelings, thoughts, and experiences with other men who understand what they are going through.

The group meets at Ty Canna, Market Road, Canton on Thursdays, 6pm – 7.30pm. You don’t need a referral or diagnosis – you can just pop in for a chat and a coffee. There’s more information here.

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