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ABOUT UNCERTAINTY, A FILM - MENTAL ILLNESS AND SEEKING HELP

ABOUT UNCERTAINTY, A FILM - MENTAL ILLNESS AND SEEKING HELP

The recent release of the film ‘Uncertainty’ has focused attention on supporting and seeking help for those who struggle with mental illness.

June 18, 2020 | St Albans / Bern | tedNEWS/EUDnews.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church has intentionally become more focused on supporting and raising awareness for people with mental health issues. The latest initiative is a moving film where the storyline deals with issues of anxiety and depression. Created by the South American Division, it was premiered on 5 June as part of the GAiN Europe Uncertainty project.

“This film looks like it was made for me,” RG wrote after seeing the movie. “I have been through this… I ask pray for me. Please help me.” He was one of many to respond.

“It is encouraging that the church’s communication department has put a focus on mental health issues, one of the biggest challenges in modern healthcare,” states Dr Helgi Jónsson, a psychiatrist and Health Ministries director for the Trans-European Division (TED). He is proud of the church for releasing a film like this.

“We, as a church, should be at the forefront of opening up the discussion on mental illness. Both within our churches and in society. And that is the biggest contribution of a film like this one, acknowledging the fact that many of us struggle with mental health issues of any kind.”

The 45-minute film is beautifully shot and edited. It has a powerful storyline and is now available around the world in Portuguese, Spanish, English (subtitled) and Italian. The script was developed in consultation with those who have suffered from depression – and those who have helped them recover. It depicts the inner struggles of the main character, Alice, in a creative way.

Adrian Duré was a consultant supervisor for the film. He monitored social media during the release and noted that it “generated a very positive and constructive discussion on social media.” While some people expressed that they didn’t feel comfortable with the genre or format, calling it a “dark movie”, Duré remarked that “most viewers felt that the movie, and especially the genre, is perfect for portraying a sad reality, and a situation that so many people around the globe are experiencing.” They also congratulated the Adventist Church, in their words, “for finally doing a movie that portrays the reality.”

And that reality? “Having the harsh, cruel inner voice as an independent person made the self-criticism of many dealing with mental illness more real,” Jónsson states. RG, a viewer from Texas wrote, “This film does an amazing job of expressing doubts and uncertainty in an external form, which can be a difficult thing to do.”

Karen Holford, TED Family Ministries director, is an experienced Family Counsellor and therapist. She notes that “some of the ‘voices’ in Alice’s thoughts have probably come from well-meaning people in her life who have tried to help her.”

Her very practical suggestion is that “this is a reminder for all of us to spend time listening to friends and family who are struggling with difficult feelings and mental illness, and being sad with them (mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15).” She adds, “When we do speak, it’s important to say things that will help them to feel loved and accepted, no matter what they are experiencing.”

Listening and speaking appropriately are both emphasised towards the end of the film. And while the storyline has something of a happy ending, there is also a recognition that recovery is always a journey – and sometimes that journey can take years, or even a lifetime.

How do you best react to a film depicting real-life issues?

The South American Division media centre, Novo Tempo, coordinated a helpline in their territory during the weekend of the film release, providing helpful advice for those affected by the issues raised. They were overwhelmed by the positive, if challenging, response.

Now the film is being translated and shared in a variety of countries around the world. Distributors in various languages and countries are encouraged to share local resources and helplines alongside the film that can point viewers in a positive direction. With English being a major international language, the film comes with general advice in the description, which can be supplemented with local contacts and helplines for specific countries.

“If this film has raised issues for you or for people you know, please find an appropriate place to seek help. This may be a medical professional, a mental health expert or counsellor, a pastor or a trusted friend. You do not have to face this alone. While the story in this film is compressed into 45 minutes, healing and help often take longer. Please reach out for the help you need.”

“The actors did a very good job and everyone involved can be proud of the beautiful outcome of the film,” Jónsson states. He then gets into the depths of the message noting that Alice appears to be suffering the consequences of sexual abuse. 

“Trauma like that, especially early in life, is not a simple matter to deal with,” he states, noting that “the complex symptomatology can oftentimes be difficult to diagnose properly.” For that reason he sees the film as best trying to help profile issues while encouraging people to seek professional help.

“The challenge with any film is that it has to simplify. These are complex issues and the time frame is probably longer than the film might tend to indicate,” he adds. A specific important area that he has worked with is helping people to learn to trust once more.

“The healing process for someone like Alice is usually counted in years,” he states. “Things can happen faster but that depends on the person and the trauma. You might ask: ‘But God could do it faster?’ and you’re right. He could heal every broken bone with the snap of a finger…but that’s not how he usually does it. And a part of the healing process is learning to trust again, even God himself. The fact that it takes time is not a sign of lack of faith, or that God isn’t by your side, but that the wound was deep.”

For both Jónsson and Holford, the most important message of the film is that there is hope. “Things can get better and we shouldn’t suffer in silence when it comes to mental health,” Holford encourages. “Should you or someone close to you suffer from mental illness, you should not hesitate to seek professional help. The sooner the better.”

Uncertainty – the Movie was released worldwide on 5 June and is available for viewing in four languages on a dedicated website: uncertaintyproject.org and also on YouTube.

This article was originally published on the Trans-European Division website

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