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Climate change is a global pressing issue. In this film we are looking into the Psychology behind what people are thinking in relation to Climate change. Caroline Hickman a climate psychology expert and Dr Liz Marks a clinical and research psychologist share their views on how climate change is affecting us psychologically and how we can manage our anxieties in relation to climate change.

Check out our other Climate Change films from the series:

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-anxiety

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-change-multi-faith-views

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-change-buddhism

Climate Change: Psychology

Caroline: Hi. So my name is Caroline Hickman. I'm a psychotherapist and a lot of the work I do is supporting people with climate change, anxiety and distress. Eco anxiety is the healthy response that we have when we see what's happening to the planet. There's nothing wrong with feeling this. In fact, if you feel eco anxiety, it's because you care. You should be proud that you care.

 

Liz:         Hi, I'm doctor Liz Marks. I'm a clinical and research psychologist. Eco and climate anxiety are the words used to describe the different thoughts and feelings that lots of people have about what's happening with climate change, and the damage that's being done to the natural world. Although the term is eco anxiety, most people feel lots of different feelings. They might feel scared and anxious, but they might also feel quite down or sad. They might feel angry, and they often feel overwhelmed. All of these feelings are very valid and very normal. In response to what's happening to the climate at the moment.

 

Caroline: We're gonna have lots of mixed feelings about this and they all make complete sense. Think of yourself as a bus. So on this bus, you want to have all of your feelings, your anger, your despair, your optimism, your sadness, your anxiety, your rage. But you also need your I want to save the planet person to have a seat on the bus. It just depends who's got hold of the steering wheel on any one particular day. Don't try and get rid of your anxiety. Let it be part of the bus, but don't let it get hold of the steering wheel all day, every day. It can have its turn at the steering wheel and then the personality, the bus conductor, the part of you that is conducting the orchestra with all these emotions says, okay, you, you've had your turn now we're going to have calm and contented driving the bus for a bit. You need all of these different parts of you to take their turn.

 

Liz:         When you're experiencing anxiety. Quite a lot of different things happen in your brain and body, and the main thing is that chemicals and hormones are released. These chemicals and hormones travel through the body and make changes that prepares the body for the fight or flight response. And what that means is, when we're facing a threat, the body needs to get ready to respond to the threat by fighting it, by pushing it away or by running away the flight. And that's why things happen in the body. Like your muscles tense, you breathe more quickly. Your blood is being pumped around the body by the heart more quickly, so the body's basically ready for action. Anxiety is a completely natural, healthy, and useful human response. Without anxiety, we wouldn't be able to respond to threats in our environment, and we wouldn't be able to keep ourselves safe from those threats.

 

Caroline: We need our anxiety because it helps us. It tells us when we should be scared of something. We need our anger because it's good to get angry when things are threatening you, or you need to say no to someone who's trying to push you around. If something's hurt us, we need to feel upset. But you don't want to stay upset for a week. You want to be upset, say you're upset, deal with those feelings and let the upset and just move on. And that gives us the emotional intelligence and the emotional resilience that we need. How do we get resilience? Not by everything going perfectly or smoothly. We develop emotional resilience by struggling with things, by getting things wrong, by sometimes failing. And then you get back up and then you try again, and then you get back up, and then you try again. Each time you get back up and try again, your resilience grows and you get stronger and you get more able to deal with the ups and downs and the ins and outs of life. And then you start to get to the point where you think, I can, I can find a way through this, I can deal with this.

 

Liz:         So if you are feeling anxious or sad or angry or any other feelings, that's completely natural and healthy. However, it can also be very painful and distressing and overwhelming, and it can sometimes feel like you maybe can't stop it from happening. So it's also really important to look for support or help and people you can talk to about it to help you through.

 

Caroline: One way to think about this is think about yourself sitting on a rock surrounded by water, and just imagine your emotions and your thoughts flowing in the water around you so you're not disconnected from them. You can see them. You can stick your toes in the water. You can see your feelings, think your thoughts, but don't throw yourself off your rock. Don't go and immerse yourself too much in them. And if you do, fall off the rock, get back on the rock and observe and think about your feelings and your thoughts. You can say to yourself, I have a body, but I am not my body. I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts. I have feelings, but I am not my feelings. You can both connect with them and identify with them, and then decide by so that you're not completely overwhelmed. If you feel anxiety, it is. Remember it is you who is feeling the anxiety. Don't become anxiety.

 

Liz:         Nature or being in nature can be a really positive thing for your mental health and well-being. There's loads and loads of evidence to show this, but don't take my word for it. Think about it yourself. Or go out into nature and see what happens to how you feel. Spending time with people who feel the same way can also be a really nice way of getting engaged with doing things that might give you a sense of being able to make a difference. People find that getting engaged in action, particularly in action with other people, is really, really good for helping them feel less overwhelmed by their eco anxiety. One of the things that's really helpful about it is it helps us to align what's important to us with what we're doing, and that's really good for our mental health and wellbeing. There are different types of action. There's the action that we can take as an individual. So for example, recycling more, cycling more and driving less and not flying so much. And perhaps we can convince people around us to do similar things. And then there's collective action or group action. And that's where we maybe join a group of people where sometimes we can make slightly bigger changes happen because there's more of us. But it's really important to to recognise that as an individual or even as somebody, as part of a collective or a group, there is only so much impact that we're going to have on climate change. So it's balancing that recognition that you can act on climate change and do what you want to do and do what you can do, but that ultimately it's not your responsibility or the responsibility of your group to solve climate change or to make the really big changes that the world needs to see. That responsibility lies with state authorities, with governments, with big business and powerful people. And sometimes the action that we need to take is getting them to see that it's their responsibility, not ours, as the individual.

 

Caroline: Any form of action, any form of activism is valuable. But remember, you want to balance up that external activism with internal activism. You also need to deal with how you feel as well as take action out there in the world. One of the difficulties is if you just focus on external action out there in the world and you feel that it's not enough and that other people are not doing enough, and yet you do more and more and more and it's still not enough is you can then just get overwhelmed or exhausted or what people call burnt out. So balance that up with having downtime. Take a night off, sit on the sofa, eat pizza, chill out with your friends, have time out and time off. As well as taking action. You are a person. You do not have to save the planet on your own. Working together, we can do something collectively and be more powerful. Your individual action is important, but you're also not personally responsible for all the problems on the planet. The thing about eco anxiety is it's not necessarily the same as other forms of mental health distress we wouldn't want to cure or fix or get rid of eco anxiety because it's an emotionally mentally healthy response. What we do need to do is understand it and make friends with it. We need to learn to work with it so that we're understanding that it's here for a reason. To motivate us to take action, to teach us to care, to help us build a better world for ourselves and our children and children all over the world. So the last thing I want to do is get rid of it. We really do need to understand that it's more of a moral upset and a moral injury than a mental illness. So the thing to do is acknowledge. Just recognize. Just tell yourself it's okay to feel a bit overwhelmed by this sometimes and take a step back. Take time out, take a break and just breathe and just relax and just know you're not the only one worrying about this. There's wonderful people all over the world lawyers, psychologists, teachers, educators, community activists, some politicians taking action on this. So you're part of that collective. You're not on your own.

 

Climate Change: Psychology

Video length - 09.52
Published date - May 2024
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

The climate crisis is having a deep impact on the world around us, how we live our lives and how we feel. With a global increase in web searches of the term ‘climate anxiety’ (up by 4,590% from 2018-2023) this film is a timely exploration of the emotional effect of climate change through one individual’s remarkable true story. 

Joycelyn Longdon (Climate in Colour) takes us on her journey across the intersection between social action and climate activism, shedding light on the urgent need for change and deepening our understanding of the intricate relationship between the environment and our well-being. She answers the question, ‘what is ‘climate anxiety?’ And can we cure it?”

Check out our other Climate Change films from the series:

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-change-buddhism

https://www.truetube.co.uk/resource/climate-change-multi-faith-views

Climate Anxiety

Joycelyn: I've always been interested in nature and the environment. Like any Brit, I grew up watching nature programmes on TV. However, I lived in London where I didn't have much access to nature, but there was a local meadowland where I used to go running.

I remember going on a trip when I was younger to Northern Ireland. We visited an ancient wood and it was there that for the first time I felt a deep connection to nature, so when my friend invited me on a march for nature, it seemed like the right thing to do.

At the climate march, maybe I was a little naive, but I didn't realise the extent of climate change.

 

I felt overwhelmed by the information on the signs and banners. The people there were not like me, and it was a shaming experience where a lot was expected of me and I left it feeling isolated and I didn't belong.

I felt lost. I wanted to do something, but I didn't know how I could get involved. How do I break into the space? If this is who climate activists are, if this is what I meant to be like, then I don't fit in.

Often when we are presented with a threat, it triggers one of three responses fight, flight or freeze. Many people feel so overwhelmed by the threat of climate change, they freeze up and become apathetic or immobilised. Many want to run away from the problem. To ignore it. To dismiss it. To tell themselves it's not real or won't be that bad, or that some invention will save us, but I have always been someone who, if they see an injustice or something wrong in the world, I am motivated to fix it.

 

But what am I meant to do as an individual? How do I get involved? I felt like an outsider. Okay, so I'll change what I can. Food. Clothing. Travel. But others were not doing the same, and this felt stressful and frustrating and my climate anxiety was still there.

My thoughts were telling me I could always do more. I always do. Could always do more. I could always do more. The overwhelming feeling, the racing thoughts, the tight chest, the constant questioning and blaming myself and if I was doing enough was making me depressed.

The climate crisis is a huge topic. It is affected by and affects so many different aspects of the world, from environmental to social to economic to political. It's clear that seemingly small changes can have a huge impact on someone somewhere in the world.

For every tree felled, every half a degree of temperature rise, there will be worse hurricanes, wildfires or floods, which may devastate someone's home, because climate change is such a broad issue. I worry I'm not using my skills in the right area.

At its very worst, this causes me to feel overwhelmed and like I want to disappear. I knew from past experience that exercise is a great way to combat these feelings. Exercise releases chemicals and hormones into the brain that affect how you feel, which can help us to feel less stressed and more clear headed.

Another thing I found helpful was the switch off to stop thinking about it, to take a break and to escape either through a good book or film, or by going for a walk, especially in nature.

 

Nature has been proven to have an incredibly calming effect when I go for a walk in nature, whether that's in a park or a local word. I don't listen to music. I try to notice the world around me the birds, the sounds, the plants, the trees, and try to stay present with it and realise I am a part of nature, but my climate anxiety was still there.

Talking about concerns and worries was also very important, but it took me a while to realise the best way to do this. I would talk to my friends about the climate crisis, but we would easily fall into a spiral of oh, isn't this bad? Or did you hear about this negative climate news story? And sometimes talking about it can feel like action, but it isn't.

 

It is important to share those feelings and to get them off your chest. But now what I found is that if we talk about it in terms of ideas or solutions, by sharing groups or campaigns which are tackling these issues, then together we can turn those feelings into action, but my climate anxiety was still there.

This was because I didn't realise that climate anxiety is also a result of a failure of the systems of power, from government to big business that impact us all.

At the same time, I'd become aware of racial justice issues around the world and thought, what can I do? How can I help people of different races being treated unfairly throughout the world? I set up a group of creatives called Black and Black and I wrote articles, I designed leaflets, and I organised events. The more I learnt, the more I realised that racial justice and climate justice are linked.

 

People in other countries who had contributed the least to cause climate change, suffering the worst effects of it. I found this deeply unfair. I found a way in to the climate movement. And my voice and my identity not only belonged, but a useful. The skills I developed through racial justice campaigning are the same ones needed in the campaign for climate justice.

 

We put so much emphasis on looking to one person, one hero to save us, whether that's Greta Thunberg or whoever. But some people believe that if they're not doing as much, they have no right to be involved.

But no one action will change the world, and no one person is so important that without or with them, they would bring an end to climate change. It will take all of us. Each of us doing what we can together.

They say that action is the antidote to anxiety, and it's not just a phrase. So I set up an Instagram account called Climate and Colour. I never expected it to grow in the way it has, which made me realise I was not alone.

 

I used to worry that I didn't have a purpose or have the ability to make a difference. So I did something about it. I decided to do a PhD to become a doctor in Conservation technology, looking at how tech can monitor changes in forests and improve the variety of animals within them, with the hope that if I can work with local communities to help protect wildlife, I'll be making a difference.

I know that my climate anxiety is not cured. It will not go away permanently, but I now know that it's a perfectly normal response to climate change. Not only is it normal, but I'm proud of it because it shows I care.

 

I now use my climate anxiety as a tool. I do not let it depress me or overwhelm me, but to empower me and motivate me. It motivates me on my journey, a journey that has taken me to some amazing places and to meet some inspirational people.

I have been privileged enough to speak on panels, and to decision makers and world leaders about the climate and biodiversity crisis, but I now know that no single individual can do it all, and it's important not to think that as an individual, all of the responsibility lands on my shoulders, because no one can be a perfect activist, and it's important to be tolerant and to recognise and respect others.

Everyone is on their own journey and their own path, and what works for you might not work for others. So I try to live my life and lead by example.

 

When I started my journey on that March all those years ago, I felt like I didn't belong. I felt shamed and made to feel guilty that I wasn't doing enough. But now those marches are much more diverse, and there are so many different groups representing so many different aspects of the climate crisis. But you don't just have to attend climate protest to be actively doing something for the climate.

You can help researchers by surveying the bird or insect species in your garden. You can find out about tree planting organisations and volunteer days near you. Whatever your passions and interests, there will be a space for you in the climate movement.

So just think what you could do. But remember that you're not on your own. We won't solve the climate crisis with individual action alone. You can be part of a wider movement of people pushing for the change we need, and be proud of your climate anxiety and let it lead you to action.

 

Joycelyn: I've always been interested in nature and the environment. Like any Brit, I grew up watching nature programmes on TV. However, I lived in London where I didn't have much access to nature, but there was a local meadowland where I used to go running.

I remember going on a trip when I was younger to Northern Ireland. We visited an ancient wood and it was there that for the first time I felt a deep connection to nature, so when my friend invited me on a march for nature, it seemed like the right thing to do.

At the climate march, maybe I was a little naive, but I didn't realise the extent of climate change.

 

I felt overwhelmed by the information on the signs and banners. The people there were not like me, and it was a shaming experience where a lot was expected of me and I left it feeling isolated and I didn't belong.

I felt lost. I wanted to do something, but I didn't know how I could get involved. How do I break into the space? If this is who climate activists are, if this is what I meant to be like, then I don't fit in.

Often when we are presented with a threat, it triggers one of three responses fight, flight or freeze. Many people feel so overwhelmed by the threat of climate change, they freeze up and become apathetic or immobilised. Many want to run away from the problem. To ignore it. To dismiss it. To tell themselves it's not real or won't be that bad, or that some invention will save us, but I have always been someone who, if they see an injustice or something wrong in the world, I am motivated to fix it.

 

But what am I meant to do as an individual? How do I get involved? I felt like an outsider. Okay, so I'll change what I can. Food. Clothing. Travel. But others were not doing the same, and this felt stressful and frustrating and my climate anxiety was still there.

My thoughts were telling me I could always do more. I always do. Could always do more. I could always do more. The overwhelming feeling, the racing thoughts, the tight chest, the constant questioning and blaming myself and if I was doing enough was making me depressed.

The climate crisis is a huge topic. It is affected by and affects so many different aspects of the world, from environmental to social to economic to political. It's clear that seemingly small changes can have a huge impact on someone somewhere in the world.

For every tree felled, every half a degree of temperature rise, there will be worse hurricanes, wildfires or floods, which may devastate someone's home, because climate change is such a broad issue. I worry I'm not using my skills in the right area.

At its very worst, this causes me to feel overwhelmed and like I want to disappear. I knew from past experience that exercise is a great way to combat these feelings. Exercise releases chemicals and hormones into the brain that affect how you feel, which can help us to feel less stressed and more clear headed.

Another thing I found helpful was the switch off to stop thinking about it, to take a break and to escape either through a good book or film, or by going for a walk, especially in nature.

 

Nature has been proven to have an incredibly calming effect when I go for a walk in nature, whether that's in a park or a local word. I don't listen to music. I try to notice the world around me the birds, the sounds, the plants, the trees, and try to stay present with it and realise I am a part of nature, but my climate anxiety was still there.

Talking about concerns and worries was also very important, but it took me a while to realise the best way to do this. I would talk to my friends about the climate crisis, but we would easily fall into a spiral of oh, isn't this bad? Or did you hear about this negative climate news story? And sometimes talking about it can feel like action, but it isn't.

 

It is important to share those feelings and to get them off your chest. But now what I found is that if we talk about it in terms of ideas or solutions, by sharing groups or campaigns which are tackling these issues, then together we can turn those feelings into action, but my climate anxiety was still there.

This was because I didn't realise that climate anxiety is also a result of a failure of the systems of power, from government to big business that impact us all.

At the same time, I'd become aware of racial justice issues around the world and thought, what can I do? How can I help people of different races being treated unfairly throughout the world? I set up a group of creatives called Black and Black and I wrote articles, I designed leaflets, and I organised events. The more I learnt, the more I realised that racial justice and climate justice are linked.

 

People in other countries who had contributed the least to cause climate change, suffering the worst effects of it. I found this deeply unfair. I found a way in to the climate movement. And my voice and my identity not only belonged, but a useful. The skills I developed through racial justice campaigning are the same ones needed in the campaign for climate justice.

 

We put so much emphasis on looking to one person, one hero to save us, whether that's Greta Thunberg or whoever. But some people believe that if they're not doing as much, they have no right to be involved.

But no one action will change the world, and no one person is so important that without or with them, they would bring an end to climate change. It will take all of us. Each of us doing what we can together.

They say that action is the antidote to anxiety, and it's not just a phrase. So I set up an Instagram account called Climate and Colour. I never expected it to grow in the way it has, which made me realise I was not alone.

 

I used to worry that I didn't have a purpose or have the ability to make a difference. So I did something about it. I decided to do a PhD to become a doctor in Conservation technology, looking at how tech can monitor changes in forests and improve the variety of animals within them, with the hope that if I can work with local communities to help protect wildlife, I'll be making a difference.

I know that my climate anxiety is not cured. It will not go away permanently, but I now know that it's a perfectly normal response to climate change. Not only is it normal, but I'm proud of it because it shows I care.

 

I now use my climate anxiety as a tool. I do not let it depress me or overwhelm me, but to empower me and motivate me. It motivates me on my journey, a journey that has taken me to some amazing places and to meet some inspirational people.

I have been privileged enough to speak on panels, and to decision makers and world leaders about the climate and biodiversity crisis, but I now know that no single individual can do it all, and it's important not to think that as an individual, all of the responsibility lands on my shoulders, because no one can be a perfect activist, and it's important to be tolerant and to recognise and respect others.

Everyone is on their own journey and their own path, and what works for you might not work for others. So I try to live my life and lead by example.

 

When I started my journey on that March all those years ago, I felt like I didn't belong. I felt shamed and made to feel guilty that I wasn't doing enough. But now those marches are much more diverse, and there are so many different groups representing so many different aspects of the climate crisis. But you don't just have to attend climate protest to be actively doing something for the climate.

You can help researchers by surveying the bird or insect species in your garden. You can find out about tree planting organisations and volunteer days near you. Whatever your passions and interests, there will be a space for you in the climate movement.

So just think what you could do. But remember that you're not on your own. We won't solve the climate crisis with individual action alone. You can be part of a wider movement of people pushing for the change we need, and be proud of your climate anxiety and let it lead you to action.

 

Climate Anxiety

Video length - 09.15
Published date - Nov 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Bryony shares her heartbreaking but hopeful story about living with cerebral palsy, PTSD and anxiety – and describes how people don’t always notice or understand these ‘hidden disabilities’. Mixing animation and live action, this beautifully shot and emotional film seeks to raise awareness not just of certain medical conditions; but of the impact of bullying and how it can push a person to feeling suicidal.

https://defeatingdisability.com/

https://www.mencap.org.uk/blog/bryonys-story

https://www.nationaldiversityawards.co.uk/awards-2023/nominations/bryony-moss/

https://hdsunflower.com/row/insights/post/cerebral-palsy-with-Bryony-Moss

Hidden Disabilities

Hello, my name is Bryony. I'm 24. I live with my mum, dad and sister and all our animals. I am an actress, blogger and model. I'm passionate about raising awareness about disability, especially hidden disability. It came about because I was having a hard time and I needed a place to just write and vent. So I started my blog. I was in year two when my family started to take me to the doctors. This was because my teacher could see I was slightly behind my peers, so I would find balance very hard, PE, I couldn't concentrate. My walking wasn't the best. I trip a lot and she just sort of noticed I couldn't really keep up in class. So she spoke to my mum and we went to the doctor and then that's when I started having tests. When I was at school to begin with, I had quite a few friends, but then that kind of changed when people noticed that I was not coming into school as much because I was at a hospital appointment and they weren't really sure why. I think when I started telling my friends that I was disabled, they kind of saw me in a different way and didn't really know how to relate to me anymore. It was like I was a different person, but to me I was just the same. Then that's when people started picking up on things that they hadn't before. I hate to use the word normal, but I think they don't think I was normal.

 

When I found out I had cerebral palsy I didn't really understand what it was, but my mum and dad were very open about it. For me, it affects my right side of my body and it's scattered all over my brain. So I find reading and writing - I found writing very hard and doing puzzles. I had a splint which was like a leg brace that I'd wear on my right leg. I couldn't wear a skirt at school, had to wear trousers because I'd have to cover it because people would see it and make fun of me. This led to bullying from the age of year 2 to 16 years old. I got bullied verbally, physically and online. I kind of closed off to the world. I didn't feel like I belonged. My disability became more hidden, but I then had the diagnosis of PTSD, anxiety and depression. PTSD is when you've had an event happen in your life and it's affected you, and for some reason, you just can't stop thinking about it, but you're not even thinking about it. You just do it without even knowing. And it can be anything to everyone and it comes out in different ways. I covered it a lot with a smile, but like I say to people, just because you're smiling doesn't mean there's nothing wrong, like a smile can hide a lot and it kind of built up and built up and built up and people couldn't see that. I was just trying to cope with the basic stuff. Even just getting up in the morning. When I'm out and about and I'm not in my wheelchair, people walk past me and treat me completely differently. But it always makes me laugh because you could be walking past someone with a disability and you might not even know. When you see me walking, it might look simple, but inside my head everything's rushing and I get confused and tired and I just kind of learnt to just try and look as normal as I possibly can. I'd get bullied every single day and I'd come home really, really upset and crying.

 

Around the age of 14, when I was getting diagnosed with my mental health conditions, I was also diagnosed with visual and auditory hallucinations. And I couldn't... I couldn't see the world. It was like I was trapped in darkness. And I still have voices now. My voices would say nasty things that weren't very nice like they still do. But I didn't have coping strategies then. I felt very lost, very alone. I thought people would be better off if I wasn't here. I started to not be able to look at myself in mirrors. I kind of switched myself off to the world and that's when everything kind of just went a bit dark. Everything got a bit confusing in my head and I couldn't... I couldn't escape my own mind. I couldn't tell what was real, what wasn't real. Um... I felt very alone. I tried to take my own life um.... And.... That was really difficult because I was scared people would just say, 'you're doing it for attention' or things like that. But I couldn't think of... a way out. If I could talk to one of the bullies today, I'd... I'd be very anxious, but I'd probably say that even though for you, it was just like a little quick comment or just like a little bit of fun at school because nothing else to do it. It affected the way I saw myself and I didn't think I was worthy of... yeah. I thought that people would be better off without me. So it really like, it became my world rather than the real world for other people. It just became dark and I couldn't get out the darkness.

I spent a bit of time in a mental health hospital. They taught me techniques of how to cope with everyday situations if they got a bit too much. I also got help from CAMHs, which is a child's mental health service, and I'm now with adult mental health and they've been amazing and the support I received with them was brilliant. I have a support worker with me six days a week. I'm very lucky to have her. Her name is Ella. She helped me to try and be as independent as possible and to not rely on my mum all the time. When I'm out and about with Ella, she will link arms with me for when we're crossing the road because of my balance also because of my timing, I'm not really good at judging when it's safe to go. Also because I can have seizures. A seizure is when there's too much electrical energy in your brain and it goes too quickly so you can't have control of yourself. I explain this to little kids, as in you've got little jellybeans in your head, and then sometimes the jellybeans get so excited and they party in your brain and you just have a seizure and you begin to shake. My seizures can be brought on by stress, anxiety, the unknown. Maybe if I'm overthinking or even when I get really excited, they can happen for all different types of reasons.

 

I have a blue badge and this will help me with car parking so I don't have to walk as far to a shop. I also have a sunflower lanyard, which is a blue or green lanyard with sunflowers on it. This is what I wear when I'm out and about. This lanyard explains to other people that I have additional needs and I might be slower or I might need more help or just to be a bit more patient with me and things like that. Just making people aware that you might just need a little bit of extra help. Like with all my hidden disabilities, I like to find new things to do to help me express myself. And photography is one of them. I really like taking pictures of nature and wildlife and it helped me to be in the moment and just appreciate small little things in the here and now. Another one of my passions is acting. When I have an audition or a job, I will mark up my script in a particular way. This is because of my dyslexia and sometimes it feels like the words on the page can be jumbled. They can sometimes look like they're spinning or blurred, but because of the strategies I use, I always feel a sense of achievement afterwards because I always get there in the end. Despite my conditions and my disabilities, I want to try and be as positive as I can. I believe that my disability is part of me, but it doesn't define me. I made some amazing friends and it was a really nice way to connect and feel that you're not alone because you get told a lot that you're not alone and you think, 'yeah, everyone says that'. But, if you reach out, a lot of people you'll find will feel similar to you or understand what you're going through. So don't be scared to tell people because people would rather you told them and you were here than you didn't tell them and you're not here. I like to say to myself, just be you. Be true. There's no one else like you, and that is your superpower. Your story can change the world. Don't be afraid to be you and don't feel embarrassed to be you. We're all different. And that's what makes the world go round.

 

Hidden Disabilities

Video length - 10.40
Published date - Oct 2023
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4
Downloadable resources

Made by students on the BFI Film Academy, this documentary covers the perspectives of several young people whose parents have suffered from mental illness. It explores the impact on them in a tender way that helps with understanding mental health conditions and their effect.

Limbo

Henry 00:00:47:19

Okay. I'm Henry.

Paige 00:00:49:20

Hi, my name is Paige. I'm 16,

Henry 00:00:51:20

I'm 16.

Paige 00:00:53:01

My childhood was good. I had lots of fun, but it was quite rocky

at times, building up to when my mom was hospitalised. Her, she

became very erratic. We didn't really know what was going on,

she wasn't herself.

Henry 00:01:05:10

It was more like a gradual shift in time, but probably when she

first checked into the mental ward, it really clicked you know.

Paige 00:01:13:22

My great grand had just died. It was just very sudden. We didn't

know what was going on.

Henry 00:01:19:06

She was dealing with alcoholism at the time, too, and just

everything just went downhill from there, and she got into the

mental ward and that's all I knew. It was like a blur to me. My

impression of her was really wilted by this experience.

Nadia 00:01:29:15

I was inspired to start the Self Esteem team, having experienced

my own troubles growing up and not having the right information

that I could relate to.

Clip: Limbo.mp4

2 / 5

Henry 00:01:41:09

I don't think I could have done anything. I was pretty powerless

and I wanted to be numb to everything, basically. It was like a

very Kafkaesque situation. I just wanted to avoid it.

Nadia 00:01:51:08

We don't just work with students, we work with parents and

teachers as well for what we call a whole school approach.

Paige 00:02:00:06

I spoke to my pastoral manager about it. I said, I said that my

mum's in hospital and she said okay, and it was never spoken

about again. We felt quite alone.

Henry 00:02:12:00

I guess I didn't really see her as like a really strong person, like

she was more human, more flawed to me. My dad, he was always

quite, uh, frantic and, uh, he didn't really treat the situation well,

I don't think.

Nadia 00:02:25:06

There can often be, uh, what's called role reversal. So the child

becomes the parent and the parent becomes the child, and this

gives huge responsibility to the young person, so they essentially

cut themselves off from friendship circles.

Henry 00:02:40:11

Music helped me through it quite a lot, to be honest. I would just

hide in my bedroom and stuff and like, you know, my parents

were constantly arguing so I'd hear sounds of them arguing

outside.

Paige 00:02:50:18

I didn't enjoy being at school. I was constantly worrying and I

started to have lots of days off.

Clip: Limbo.mp4

3 / 5

Henry 00:02:57:06

I, I'd say I wanted to be in school more because, like, I kind of

wanted to run away from my home life and like, I wanted to be

involved in school affairs more, like I just wanted life to go on as

normal, but of course, it didn't just went like topsy turvy really

quickly.

Paige 00:03:13:15

I think it would have been helpful for me to speak to somebody at

school, because it would have made me want to go into school

more. They just need to pay a bit more attention to the students,

because it's not always the students that are making a ruckus or

being loud. It's sometimes the students who don't say anything at

all.

Nadia 00:03:28:16

So many people suffer in silence or slip under the radar and

aren't recorded.

Henry 00:03:33:14

I just wanted people to think that I was having a normal life, so I

just kept all these feelings bottled inside of me and just

suppressed them. My mom has been home for like two years now,

and she has been dealing with pretty well, and she hasn't had

any significant relapses or anything, so it's good. I don't think I'll

ever fully comprehend what happened, but I think, uh, I think I'm

more aware of, you know, her situation and like the full scope of

it.

Paige 00:04:04:05

I was really relieved when I got the call saying that my mom was

home. She contacted her doctors and said, would they be able to

speak to us? For me, it helped to speak to somebody because I

was able to say things that I didn't realise I was thinking.

Clip: Limbo.mp4

4 / 5

Nadia 00:04:19:17

Mental health conditions are a lot more universal, and there will

be someone out there who can understand, or someone out there

who is going through a similar thing and has perhaps come out

the other side, or has good advice that might be able to help you.

Henry 00:04:34:20

I think it's a good thing I see my mom as more human, although,

you know, the crisis wouldn't be the best way of teaching that to

me, you know.

Paige 00:04:43:23

I think my mom's experience has taught me to take a step back

and think about myself more, not to be so selfless.

Henry 00:04:52:01

If I was giving someone advice who was going through this, I

would say, find someone you can really open up to because I

didn't at the time.

Paige 00:04:59:12

Be patient and realise it's not your fault. It can't be helped.

Nadia 00:05:04:03

It's not always the first person that you reach out to, that's

necessarily the one you're going to connect to or knows how to

help.

Henry 00:05:11:04

I only really found out I needed to open up to someone like years

later, because I have a friend like that now, and like, it's been like

a really good thing in my life.

Nadia 00:05:21:09

So keep going, keep trying. There's no one size that fits all.

Clip: Limbo.mp4

5 / 5

Paige 00:05:27:17

It will take time for things to get better.

Henry 00:05:30:14

Even like the strongest people can like break down sometimes.

Nadia 00:05:33:14

And if it takes a few people, that's fine. That's normal. You're

doing better than you think.

Limbo

Video length - 6.38
Published date - Oct 2022
Keystage(s) - 3 and 4

Understanding Addiction: Dad Dependent On Alcohol – Jo is now in her 40s but spent her childhood being frightened of her father, who became addicted to alcohol and made life difficult for Jo and her whole family. While it’s important to listen to and help those who become personally dependent on a substance, the loved ones of people with dependency issues sometimes get forgotten, and they also need guidance through their trauma. Jo is now in the best place she’s ever been in her life thanks to charities such as Adfam, who focus on the families of those with substance misuse or dependency issues.

There are three fact sheets and three lesson plans that you can use alongside the nine addiction films, which includes the introduction film, seven interviews (each focused on a different type of addiction) and a law film. Please also read the attached guidance and teacher notes that offer support and resources for young people who may already be experiencing addiction in their lives or homes.

A film by Alastair Collinson.

If you are affected by any of the content on screen or would like to know more, please visit the website of Adfam, who are based across the UK, or you can reach out to Jo personally who operates her own service for people going through, or who have gone through, a similar experience to her.

https://www.helpfordependency.co.uk/

https://adfam.org.uk/

https://www.johuey.co.uk

Jo Huey is a speaker, trainer and adult child of an alcoholic based in Bournemouth. She educates professionals about living in a home of alcohol misuse and how best to help families. She has also written two children’s books. Check out her podcast on alcohol misuse, the impact on the drinker, family and society as a whole – just search for “Two Roads Travelled” on most podcast platforms. She created the accompanying document that helps identify and assist young people who possibly have a parent with substance dependency.

To contact Jo email her at:

[email protected]

Understanding Addiction: Dad Dependent On Alcohol

Video length - 06.26
Published date - Sep 2021
Keystage(s) - 3, 4 and 5

Understanding Addiction: Heroin – Heroin, and opioids in general, are considered by many to be the most dangerous illegal drugs, and yearly statistics reflect this view. It is also one of the most addictive and difficult drugs to stop using. Simon had a difficult childhood and used heroin to escape from his emotional trauma, but as his tolerance increased so did his dependency and his willingness to break the law in order to get more of the drug. It led to homelessness and a near death experience. But with the right help, he turned his life around. Watch him share his story now.

There are three fact sheets and three lesson plans that you can use alongside the nine addiction films, which includes the introduction film, seven interviews (each focused on a different type of addiction) and a law film. Please also read the attached guidance and teacher notes that offer support and resources for young people who may already be experiencing addiction in their lives or homes.

A film by Alastair Collinson.

If you are affected by any of the content on screen or would like to know more, please visit the website of St George’s Crypt who help hundreds of people like Simon all year round. They are based in Leeds. Other similar services can be found across the UK if you search online.

https://www.helpfordependency.co.uk/

https://www.stgeorgescrypt.org.uk/

https://www.drugsand.me/en/

Understanding Addiction: Heroin

Video length - 05.11
Published date - Sep 2021
Keystage(s) - 3, 4 and 5

Understanding Addiction: Gambling – Danny grew up with a positive culture of gambling, but a lot has changed since he was younger, and gambling can now be accessed far more easily – not just due to an increase in high-street bookmakers, but also because of the enormous surge in online options. What started as a bit of fun in his late teens spiralled into an addiction that put him in £50,000 of debt and led to suicidal thoughts. At the root of his dependency was the need to escape the trauma of losing his mum to cancer. Now he is debt-free thanks to the help of a community he fostered, an app that can block him making payments on gambling sites, and advice from charities. Watch him share his story now.

A film by Alastair Collinson.

If you are affected by any of the content on screen or would like to know more, gambling addiction has been recognised since 2013 as an affliction equal to drug and alcohol dependency – there are a number of NHS linked clinics and UK wide charities that can help people struggling with it.

https://www.helpfordependency.co.uk/

https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/gambling-addiction/

https://www.gamcare.org.uk/

https://www.gamblersanonymous.org.uk/https://gordonmoody.org.uk/

https://www.gmmh.nhs.uk/news/nhs-gambling-addiction-service-for-north-of-england-3379/

Understanding Addiction: Gambling

Video length - 05.36
Published date - Sep 2021
Keystage(s) - 3, 4 and 5

Understanding Addiction: Alcohol – Sarah (not her real name) had a positive upbringing with a close family unit, and she excelled at primary school. But when she started secondary school, she started getting bullied and decided to bully those people right back. It led her down a dark path, mixing with the wrong crowds and letting her school work slide. Then she started drinking alcohol, and things got much, much worse. But with the right help, she turned her life around. Watch her share her story now. Her film is unique in the series: Sarah didn’t want to tell her story on camera, so her exact words are voiced by an actor and portrayed on screen via animation (by Anh Cao).

There are three fact sheets and three lesson plans that you can use alongside the nine addiction films, which includes the introduction film, seven interviews (each focused on a different type of addiction) and a law film. Please also read the attached guidance and teacher notes that offer support and resources for young people who may already be experiencing addiction in their lives or homes.

If you are affected by any of the content on screen or would like to know more, please visit the website of charity We Are With You, who are based across the UK.

https://www.helpfordependency.co.uk/

https://www.wearewithyou.org.uk/

https://www.drugsand.me/en/

Understanding Addiction: Alcohol

Video length - 07.44
Published date - Sep 2021
Keystage(s) - 3, 4 and 5

Understanding Addiction: Cannabis – Cannabis is the most popular illegal drug in the UK, and smoking it before the age of 18 is particularly dangerous for your mental health, as Dean testifies in this film. He began smoking it when he was only 12 years old, and it contributed to numerous psychological issues. But with the right help, he turned his life around. Watch him share his story now.

There are three fact sheets and three lesson plans that you can use alongside the nine addiction films, which includes the introduction film, seven interviews (each focused on a different type of addiction) and a law film. Please also read the attached guidance and teacher notes that offer support and resources for young people who may already be experiencing addiction in their lives or homes.

A film by Alastair Collinson.

If you are affected by any of the content on screen or would like to know more, please visit these websites:

https://www.helpfordependency.co.uk/

https://www.drugsand.me/en/

Understanding Addiction: Cannabis

Video length - 04.52
Published date - Sep 2021
Keystage(s) - 3, 4 and 5
Downloadable resources

Understanding Addiction: Steroids – Jack was bullied as a child and experienced traumas at home that made him want to bulk up and get muscular. He also enjoyed the attention of the opposite sex and having strangers comment on his physique. But he could never get big enough and soon became emotionally dependent on steroids. But with the right help, he turned his life around. Watch him share his story now.

There are three fact sheets and three lesson plans that you can use alongside the nine addiction films, which includes the introduction film, seven interviews (each focused on a different type of addiction) and a law film. Please also read the attached guidance and teacher notes that offer support and resources for young people who may already be experiencing addiction in their lives or homes.

A film by Alastair Collinson.

If you are affected by any of the content on screen or would like to know more, please visit the website of the Alcohol and Drug Service, run in conjunction with the NHS, who operate The Juice Bar in the Hull area. Other similar services can be found across the UK if you search online.

https://www.helpfordependency.co.uk/

http://www.ads-uk.org/thejuicebar

https://www.drugsand.me/en/

Understanding Addiction: Steroids

Video length - 05.55
Published date - Sep 2021
Keystage(s) - 3, 4 and 5