New film ‘Mental Health on Record’ released

Last night we premiered ‘Mental Health on Record’, a stop-motion animation film made by a group of young people which explores how contemporary views on mental health can be used to interpret historical records from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The film is now available on our YouTube channel.

The project was co-led by filmmaker Nigel Kellaway, in partnership with Richmond Borough Mind and Jon Bartlett, a mental health first-aid consultant.

Documents featured in the film demonstrate how perceptions of mental health have changed and include words like ‘hysterical’, ‘lunatic’ and ‘eccentric’. With cases often not recognised as mental health issues, the documents originate from a range of sources beyond health records, including the Prison Commission, Central Criminal Court and the War Office.

A key aspect of the project was the creative journey the young people took during the film-making process last August. While the film is rooted in the historical documents from our collection, working with Mind and Jon gave the participants an opportunity to speak candidly about their own mental wellbeing. One participant drew upon a session with Mind to animate the ‘five ways to wellbeing’, highlighting the parallels between their experiences and the stories depicted in the records.

‘Mental Health on Record’ is the fourth instalment of a young person’s project funded by the Friends of The National Archives. Young people with an interest in history and film were invited to apply online.

Tags: education, Jon Bartlett, mental health, Nigel Kellaway, Richmond Borough Mind