Now, more than ever before, we need stories. We need stories of courage and compassion, love and loss, triumph and tragedy, hope and resilience.
During this project, a series of digital stories were created in order to explore depression & mental illness from a variety of angles.
Digital stories are short videos (2-6 minutes) created by bringing together a series of pictures or photos with a voiceover. All of the digital stories created for this project were made entirely by the individual, during a facilitated process with Patient Voices.
[Trigger warning: These stories talk about mental health and contain themes such as suicide.] Clicking the links will open the Patient Voices website.
Researchers who study depression
In his professional life, Anders seeks to bring forth meaning from data – data contributed by over 24,000 generous volunteers in his study.
In his personal life, he sows, nurtures and grows vegetables on his allotment.
The true worth of those vegetables is in sharing them with others as part of a delicious and nourishing meal – just as the true worth of the work of the data contributed to his study lies in the information and meaning that he can make from them and give back to the community to inform and educate.
- Help me help you
Carys has always seen patterns – in numbers, in Lego bricks, everywhere. Her work as an epidemiologist and data scientist looks for patterns in numbers, statistics, the data that describes our population. In a pandemic, whether of COVID or depression, the more complete that data set is, then the more accurate she can see the patterns in the data. There is so much data out there, but it may not have been collected expressly for this purpose, but it could really help. Your data could really help. Would you share it to help her see those patterns more clearly?
- Understanding ageing
Matthew knows that his research into dementia and ageing is unlikely to be able to offer changes to treatment and prediction that will directly benefit the many elderly people that take part in his research programme.
They know it too – and still, they work, like him, towards improving the health of future generations.
- The whirlwind of adolescent depression
Adolescence – a whirlwind of change, a time of chaotic experiences and response for many. Making sense of a single teenage life can be challenging, but through data science and a larger data set, Niamh seeks to understand the nature of the developmental, social or environmental factors that affect the teenage experience. That way, she may be able to help map a safer course through the storms for them.
- Understanding, diagnosing, recognising
The unique and individual nature of depression may require a unique and individual therapeutic intervention. Too often one size does not fit all – responses to drugs may vary, requiring repeated cycles to identify the correct approach. What if research into a holistic approach to the patients’ profiles could offer a basis for predicting the optimal therapeutic approach?
Adults with lived experience of depression
Robin fills the emptiness of depression with the emptiness of cans. He battles the heaviness, chilling cold and pointlessness with more.
An attempt to talk to his GP about depression provides no relief. That has to come from within, when he changes his life, pushes forward in his education and becomes a father.
- Mind the gaps
Depression brings gaps into Karen’s life. The gaps fracture her life and separate her from meaning and purpose. But they have other effects – changes to her career, training as a therapist – and now building something of beauty from those gaps, not papering over them.
Stella chooses to fly higher into a new life of study in a new city, in a new country. But emotional and personal loss eventually weighs her down, more and more, until she is pulled down to earth again. Help from friends, services, and a crisis team help her to begin to rise again as she begins to move forward once more in her journey.
- Blue skies
Depression darkens the skies over our lives. When a young mother to be is taken into hospital before the birth of her child, little attention is given to her mental health. Depression becomes a lockdown for her, and it is years before she sees blue skies again, this time in the middle of another lockdown.
Mothers of young people with mental illness
- A freak accident
A young boy, kicked in the head by a horse. A mother desperate to ensure he receives the best care for his PTSD, anxiety and agoraphobia and support from services and professionals that will help him to resume his previous life and education.
Systems and professionals whose attitude is characterised by the comment that: ‘He’s too good at maths to have a brain injury.'
- This is our child
A child. A child who is talented, clever and kind. A child who is battered and bruised now hides behind a mask. New parents who have seen that child with her mask on, and their mask off and hope that, one day, she will be able to abandon the mask and show her true beauty to everyone.
Bravery comes in many forms. Bravery in the relationship between a mother and a child with mental health issues is something that both must learn, both must use, and both will learn from the other.
- And so, we drive…
Sometimes the safest of spaces a mother can make for a troubled child can be surprising – a small space, in a small, personal piece of the day, where they can be together, travelling through the dark, hoping one day to arrive in the light.
- How does a Mum?
How does a Mum calm fears, break bad news, support and nurture? How does a Mum cope, care, strategise and plan ways to move from condition red to condition green? How does a Mum find the energy, the resources, the stamina, the support she must have? She does it with her own love and with the support of others who feel the same challenges and pain.
- No beginning, no end, and trying not to drown in the middle
An emotional and mental maelstrom. A child lost in it, barely keeping her head above water, and becoming exhausted by the struggle. A mother, desperate to save, not knowing how best to rescue, and trying herself to stay afloat through the storm.
Young people (16-25) who explored the topic of mental health and wellbeing.
[stories coming soon]
What next for these digital stories?
Our goal is to have these stories seen by as many people as possible.
To this end, we aim to:
- Show them at public events to inspire others, and reduce stigma around depression
- Share them with policymakers and clinical staff to increase their awareness.
- Use them to bring a human perspective to scientific conferences and meetings.
If you are interested in collaborating with us on this, please contact email@example.com
Depression is very common with one in ten people being diagnosed with the illness at some point in their lives. But rather than being just one condition - experts believe clinical depression is a collection of different disorders with one common symptom - low mood.
Funding and partners
This project was funded by a ScotPEN Wellcome Engagement Award (217078/Z/19/Z) and is run by Dr Iona Beange, Knowledge Exchange and Impact Officer for CoMorMent, based at The University of Edinburgh (firstname.lastname@example.org) in collaboration with: