Film about Hampstead teen’s struggle with depression screened at BFI

Lauren helps make the film

Lauren helps make the film - Credit: Archant

A teenager from Hampstead who saw her young life marred by panic attacks and severe depression has had a film based on her experiences screened at the British Film Institute (BFI) in a bid to “end the stigma” associated with mental health.

The 18-year-old, who wished only to be known as “Lauren”, worked with other young people across London to create the animated film which charts their experiences dealing with mental illnesses.

Called “Facing Shadows”, it was screened at the BFI in Southbank last Monday.

It comes as concerning figures show that while one in ten children in the UK suffers a treatable mental health illness, just one in four seek help.

The rates for children in Camden may be even higher, however, as the borough continues to report one of the highest mental health needs in the country.

“Lauren” urged any youngsters in Camden currently suffering in silence to seek help.

She said: “I’d like other people dealing with depression on their own to know that if you don’t feel like you can reach out to anyone close to you, there is other help available. You can self-refer yourself to the doctors or can find help online.

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“When my mum was unwell and in hospital a lot, this was when I started to find things difficult. I suffered for months with panic attacks because it felt like a weakness for me to admit that I felt low.

“I couldn’t describe depression as a specific feeling. You can never really understand how someone else is feeling as everybody feels different.

“It was great to be involved in the film as we could show that people experience depression in many different ways.”

The evening’s screening was organised by the Anna Freud Centre (AFC) in Hampstead.

Dr Peter Fuggle, director of clinical services at the AFC, advised parents to have “non-critical” chats with their children should they be worried about their state of mind.

He said: “Anxiety and depression are the most common problems young people present with, and this translates across the community – whether they’re from a prosperous family or a poorer one.

“While the mental health services for children in Camden are good, there will be many who aren’t receiving the help they need.

“There’s an important role for parents here as we won’t solve this problem by just employing lots of therapists.

“I’d encourage them to try and have open and non-critical discussions with their children. Speaking to their teachers can also help to see if the problems extend beyond the home. If you are worried, do contact your GP.”