THREE things to consider before filming your It Gets Brighter video
Sharing your story can be a very powerful and encouraging experience, both to the person watching the video and the person that filmed it. There are, however, a few issues to consider before you press ‘Record’. This short list will help you to think about online consent, appropriate language and the impact of how we communicate about our own experiences. Please note that It Gets Brighter will be unable to share videos that do not fit within these guidelines.
(1) First and foremost, have you considered whether this is right for you, right now?
Writing about your own experience of having a mental health problem is a brave and inspirational thing to do. It is ok to need more time to think about whether or not you want to tell the world what happened, it’s ok to talk about your decision to film with other people first, and it’s ok to publish anonymously (you can decide whether to use your first or full name or have a different word when titling your video). Once something has been published online you can’t control who reads it or what their reaction will be, so make sure you are ready; you are doing something amazing and it is bound to have a positive impact on somebody’s life. If you’re thinking about filming a video;
– Remember, you don’t have to share anything that you aren’t comfortable sharing. Some people would prefer to talk about helpful strategies they used/ how they supported someone rather than about their own personal experience.
– Perhaps you’d like to do a practice video and come back to it a week later to see if you still feel happy with submitting to IGB.
– You might find it useful to think about your reasons for sharing your story – if you find that your motivations are coming from a place that isn’t helpful to your own wellbeing and about inspiring hope in others, this may not be the right time for you to submit a video. There are plenty of other ways you can support the campaign – by promoting the website and spreading the word!
Finally, if you do decide to submit a video, be mindful that thinking through your story could be emotional and you might want to arrange to meet a friend afterwards.
(2) Does your video instil hope and carry a positive message?
The It Gets Brighter Campaign operates in a safe, pro-recovery online environment to inspire and motivate people to share stories and strategies for managing mental health. We look at recovery as an active and positive process. Reflecting this, we think it’s important that talking about mental health carries a supportive and positive message, being mindful of the feelings and vulnerabilities that some people may be experiencing when they are watching. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t mention the challenges – it’s important to acknowledge that people have ups and downs during and after ‘recovery’. Bear in mind however that ‘unhopeful’ messages such as labelling specific therapies, treatment centres or medication as negative could discourage individuals from seeking support. It’s about getting a balance, and recognising different things will work for different people. The hopeful bit of your message doesn’t have to be a big milestone, it may demonstrate being proud of yourself for small steps. In addition, including other aspects of your life & identity and thinking about what makes you ‘you’, could be important in breaking down pre-conceptions of people that know less about mental health difficulties. If you’re struggling with keeping within this messaging, try asking yourself the following questions;
- If you were writing today for yourself 5 years ago, what would you say?
- If you were talking to a friend or family member, what would you say?
(3) Have you thought about the impact of ‘triggering’ information and keeping your video safe?
In your video, please don’t go into detail about specific behaviours as this may be triggering for current sufferers. Instead, focus on making sure that what you write is safe for a current sufferer and doesn’t provide them with something to compare themselves to. Triggering content can include; details of self-harm (the methods used or the physical aspects), numbers (i.e. calories and weight), specific details regarding destructive behaviour, the length or severity of a sufferer’s stay in hospital/ formal treatment, and describing suicidal methods. With regards to eating difficulties, we also ask that you avoid mentioning specific foodstuffs or quantities, as this can be extremely detrimental to those suffering from an eating disorder and can unintentionally provide tips to someone on their way to developing an eating disorder. Rather than speaking about these specific behaviours, aim to focus on the feelings and psychological effects of having a mental health difficulty, for example loss of self-esteem, shrinking friendship circles etc. There is a lot of information readily available online on the physical effects of mental health difficulties, we’d like to focus on helping people to understand the associated thoughts and feelings.