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Red Deer College and Art With Impact Canada present ‘Movies for Mental Health’

Event also lands support from the Red Deer & District Community Foundation

An interactive workshop that includes short films focused on mental health runs Jan. 22nd at Red Deer College.

The Red Deer & District Community Foundation has awarded Art With Impact Canada a grant for ‘Movies for Mental Health’.

The event, which features very short films focused on themes of mental health, runs from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. in the Margaret Parsons Theater as part of RDC’s annual #MakeSomeTimeRDC initiative.

This two-hour workshop is one of many taking place on campuses this academic year, and the third time to be offered at RDC, said Natalie Daley, Art With Impact program director.

“Movies for Mental Health provides students and community with a safe and unique way to talk about mental health and wellness,” she said. “Attendees make authentic emotional connections to the films, increasing their understanding and building compassion for themselves and their experiences.

“Each year, it also really seems to grow. The momentum from the year before helps contribute to that, and generally just having these kinds of conversations on campus and in the community has made it better attended as the years go by,” she said.

“So we are really looking forward to this year and to building on those conversations we’ve had previously.”

Movies for Mental Health is a free workshop, with dinner provided for attendees. Anyone can attend, but must be over 18.

The workshop consists of a discussion, the viewing of three short films from the ground-breaking OLIVE Film Collection on the topic of mental health and a resource panel connecting attendees with mental health resources in Red Deer.

Art With Impact puts out an open call for film projects five minutes or less from anyone of any age and from any region that touches on a mental health-related topic.

“The films are what we use to really drive our educational programs,” she explained. “They are created by people who really want to challenge basically the mainstream messages we receive about mental health and mental illness. We also talk a lot about that during the workshop. What is stigma? What is mental health?

“We also talk about mental health in the media and how it is represented and how does that relate to those who have mental illnesses. We challenge people to be more active media consumers especially when it relates to mental health.”

A couple of students will also be sharing their own experiences related to mental health, and local agencies will be onhand to chat about what their organizations provide in terms of services.

“We want to make sure (audience members) know what is available to them.”

According to the Art With Impact web site, “People can engage in behaviors and practices that support (their) mental health, which could include things like going to therapy, being physically active, talking with people we care about, spending time alone or being creative.

“Mental health is personal, and each of us gets to define what it looks like for ourselves. At the end of the day, mental wellness means living life in a way that works for you and embodying a version of yourself that you feel good about.”

Daley said the workshop’s format is also something Art With Impact has been following for several years.

“We have programs that take place in about five different provinces and about 20 different states,” she said.

Locally, feedback from past Movies for Mental Health events have garnered really encouraging feedback.

“People have described it as worthwhile, touching, uplifting and informative,” she said of past Red Deer events.

“Most people are also more likely to get help after attending which is huge especially when that college age – 18 to 26 – is when a lot of symptoms can arise,” she added. “Having people more likely to get support when they need it, and to know where to get that support, is really key.”

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