January 25th is bell Let’s Talk, a multi-year charitable program dedicated to the promotion and support of mental health across Canada. Since 2010, Bell has committed more than $100 million to support a wide range of mental health organizations, large and small, from coast to coast focusing on anti-stigma, care and access, workplace mental health and research.
The goal of the program is to help keep the conversation going all year long and make every day a day it is okay to talk about mental health. When it comes to mental illness, education is key. Having the right tools, knowing the right words to use and understanding how to correctly speak with someone experiencing a mental illness can make all the difference. Stigma can often prevent those struggling with a mental illness from seeking the help they need. That is why discussing the issues, ending the stigma and talking about what people experience is so important. It is something that has become important to Award winning Director and m & s Marshall Productions co-owner Matthew Marshall. “I see people all around me that I am friends with who suffer from various forms on mental illness. Whether it be anxiety, or depression or any other form of mental health issues, we all know someone that struggles,” Marshall says. It’s why Marshall most recent film projects have centred around the issues. In the Summer of 2016 Marshall Team up with director Corrinne Wood and her production company IME films to produce a short film called Struggles Within that Wood wrote about depression told totally through dance in the mind of a young woman struggling with depression and who is trying to decide if she wants to live. When asked about the film Wood had this to say “mental illness is something really near and dear to my heart, and this film is designed to show an audience who may not be struggling with a mental illness what kind of daily struggles really goes on inside the mind of someone struggling with depression.” Information about the film can be found on IMDb at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5872970/combined
The lead character in Struggles Within is played by St Thomas Native Katie Ostojic who was a student in Marshall Tuned In short film. Katie has been dancing competitively since she was 8 years old. She has participated as a backup dancer in the Family Channel’s, The Next Step and in the summer of 2012 her dance troupe traveled to London, England to provide entertainment through dance at the Summer Olympics. Katie feels dancing in this film is a wonderful opportunity to do what she loves the most, to dance. “Being part of this film is an opportunity to inspire others, especially youth” says Ostojic when talking about her role in the film. She goes on to say, “The story about overcoming demons and finding hope Is one I know well, and It’s an honour for me to tell this story through the art dance. Hope changes everything”.
Ostojic is also playing the lead character Naomi Spencer in the second film that Marshall has been doing dealing with the issue of Mental health and that is his newest project Malicious Attack which deals with Bullying and has a number of characters in the film that struggle with being the victims of bullying. Each person deals with it in a different way which Marshall only says “Scratches the surface” of how people deal with it in real life. Marshall says the idea for this production has been in his mind since he heard the story of Amanda Todd, who committed suicide due to being bullied. Marshall said he decided then that he wanted to do a film on the topic of Bullying and its effects. Most recently the right time has presented itself. Malicious Attack is a dramatic short film that focuses on the issue of bullying. The story that follows Naomi Spencer a teenager girl who is pushed to her limits by several girls at her High School who make her the target of their attacks. The relentless attacks come from three teenagers, Savannah White, and her friends Brittany De Silva and Avery Le Paige. Naomi’s best friend Macey tries to find ways to help Naomi expose the bullying, but Naomi is unwilling to come forward. The Attacks on Naomi continue until she is reaches a breaking point. The film is still currently in principle production. More information on the film can be found on IMDB at http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6156436/combined
Marshall feels it is important to talk about the how people are feeling and what they are going through so that the stigma can be eliminated. He feels that mental illness is a very common form of human pain and suffering. “I think if we could all be a good listener and asking how we can help those around us who are suffering it would go a long way to helping expose what people go through”, say Marshall. He also feels just being there for people you care about, can be the first step to recovery.
Also he feels simple kindness can make a world of a difference. “Whether it be a smile, being a good listener or an invitation for a chat over coffee, these simple acts of kindness can help open up the conversation and let someone know you’re there for them”, Marshall adds.
Two out of three people suffer in silence, fearing judgement and rejection. Starting a conversation is the first step towards eliminating stigma. That is what Bell let’s talk is trying to achieve. Knowing the facts, be kind to others, be a good listener and friend. In that way we each can be part of the conversation to eliminate stigma dealing with Mental Health once and for all.