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What does depression feel like? And what’s it like to go to therapy? 

“If I was trying to explain to someone who has never experienced it, ever, it’s like trying to explain a colour that they can’t see.”

On #timetotalkday we are sharing a film created by a group of young people involved in research at the Anna Freud Centre.

WARNING: This video may potentially trigger seizures for people with photosensitive epilepsy. Viewer discretion is advised.

The film, Facing Shadows, was premiered at the BFI. It explores young people’s experiences of depression and highlights the importance of asking for help.

Facing Shadows was created by a group of young people involved in a major research study investigating depression in adolescence working alongside a team of professional filmmakers.

Louisa, one of the young people involved, said: “I want to get awareness of depression out there, because of what I went through. I know so many people going through the same thing and they don’t get help or recognise it, or they think their parents and teachers won’t understand.”

Stella, another of the young filmmakers, said: “The one thing with depression is that you feel alone. I hope that the film sends out a message to people who are suffering from depression and are really low that they are not alone.”

The film aims to raise awareness of mental health issues and to encourage young people to speak out about their problems.

Lorder, who also worked on the film, said: “A lot of people have the same preconceptions about therapy and the film helps you see how different people react to different situations.”

Mental health campaigner Jonny Benjamin, who launched the ‘Find Mike’ social media campaign following his search to find the stranger who stopped him from taking his own life, spoke at the film premiere.

He said: "It was a privilege to be at the premiere of Facing Shadows and Journey Through The Shadows. I was in awe of the bravery of all those that took part. It was a real pleasure to meet them in person. The films are outstanding and I know will help many people who suffer from depression." 

There was also a screening of another film, Journey through the Shadows, which focuses on the experiences of three parents living with a child who suffers from depression and the parents’ own journeys towards getting help.

Nick Midgley, who has led the IMPACT-ME project said: "Working with the young people and parents on this film project has been an extraordinary experience. They've been so honest and courageous in sharing their experiences, and working with an animator and team of professional film-makers has meant that everyone has learnt a huge amount."

Romana, another young person involved, said: “We spent 4 days making the film … The most important thing was that the adults were really interested in what the young people had to say, which is a situation you don’t find yourself in very often. Being able to get your ideas out there in an animation is great.”

The films were made with the support of Lizzy Hobbs, Andy Dunn, Tom Mellor, Valerie Dunn, Mark Simms and the IMPACT-ME research team at the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families: Nick Midgley, Emily Stapley, Sally Parkinson and Danny Isaacs.

Journey through the Shadows was funded by the Monument Trust, Health Technologies Assessment and the Beacon Bursary.

The Behind the Scenes film can be viewed below: