Graeme Campbell is our Head Writer at Point Blank. He’s written and directed almost all of our work in the mental health sector, but it took a personal connection to recent events to drive home the real impact of mental health awareness.
When people ask me what about my job has truly impacted my life the most, my mind invariably goes to a particular sector of our work: Mental Health. Distant second? That time I got to interview Danny Glover… for, like, 47 seconds.
Over the years, I have had the immense privilege of developing dozens of videos within the mental health sector. Some target teens with real-world tools to manage their anxiety. Some are geared towards medical doctors to help them remain mindful of the mental wellbeing of their patients.
What this looks like from my end is that I get to work extensively with passionate activists and field-leading experts on how to best lay these issues out so people can understand them. I have always held these experiences in high regard. I know the subject is fundamentally important, and the work is always profoundly rewarding intellectually. Beyond that, however, I hadn’t truly considered how all of this might impact my day-to-day life—and I’d certainly never thought of it as “awareness”.
Mental health awareness isn’t just about ensuring that we can access the appropriate resources when we’re struggling with our own issues. It’s also about doing our best to be part of those resources when we’re needed. I was reminded of this last week, when someone important in my life happened to be on vacation in Las Vegas, walking nearby an outdoor country music concert.
Before I continue, I want to say that this person is physically fine, has returned to their normal life after a bit of time, and is processing things accordingly. I’m not going to go into any real detail regarding their experience, because it’s neither my story to tell, nor is it relevant to my point. Suffice to say, the experience was traumatizing to the point that when they returned home to Vancouver, they didn’t feel comfortable being alone right away. So, like anyone would, I offered the spare room at my place.
We hadn’t had much of a chance to talk before they arrived, so I really didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous about how to behave; what to say; what not to say. It’s not really something you’re ever prepared to talk about. As we chatted into the night, to my surprise, I found that I kept mentally referring to a couple of the aforementioned videos. A rudimentary understanding of things like trauma and PTSD, gleaned over the course of multiple, short productions suddenly felt invaluable. I hadn’t become a trained counsellor or psychiatrist or anything. But I did stop worrying about doing the wrong thing, because I remembered what those wrong things generally were, and I could just focus on listening and supporting.
Later, I realized that I had never independently sought out any of that knowledge. The only reason any of it was rattling around inside my head was due to the happenstance of my weird job. I was lucky. So, firstly, this is a sincere thank you to all those organizations for letting me be a part of those productions.
And secondly, I’m taking this brief moment to urge everyone to learn just a little bit more about mental health than you knew yesterday. Whether it’s about an issue you’re directly facing, something you suspect may be going on for someone you know, or even just something you’re curious about. It may be you, or someone you love, or someone you just met—but trust me—at some point, it’ll almost certainly help someone.
Below are some links to a few of the orgs that we have worked with directly in the past. They’re good places to start. Read an article, watch a video, download an app. I think that’s how awareness starts.