Life is hard, but it’s worth it. That is the underlying message of the non-profit #HelpMe short film, created by IPM Acting Academy in Leeds, developed to shine a light on the devastating effects of suicide on our mental health. An emotional and honest message Inspired by close friends suffering with mental health problems and first-hand experiences of dealing with life after suicide, the fictional film aims to raise awareness of these issue and encourage people to ask for help.

“Problems with mental health are very common, and suicide is at an outrageous high, so we thought this was an issue people needed to be more aware of and hopefully it could help to save lives,” explains producer, Stewart Ross. “All of the stories in the film are based on true events, and many of the actors involved have experienced these issues, or know someone who’s been through similar circumstances. “It was extremely important to everyone involved to get the message out that people are going through this and there is help available.” There is help out there #HelpMe follows the lives of a number of characters who are suicidal, and the effects it can have on those left behind. In tackling a difficult and often taboo topic, the raw and emotional film hopes to break the stigma surrounding mental health.

“We wanted to make people think before they consider suicide, and I hope that friends, family and colleagues might now recognise when someone may need help or someone to talk to,” says Ross. “The project reminded us of just how much help there is, and that people genuinely want to. We hope it will help anyone who is experiencing suicidal thoughts to realise that there is hope – people really do care and there is help available. “I also hope it shows that, sometimes, just listening is often all a person really needs.”

:34 A growing support system The battle to raise more awareness of mental health issues is one that the city of Leeds is thoroughly invested in. Leeds Beckett University recently launched the Carnegie Centre of Excellence for Mental Health in Schools (the very first of its kind in the UK) which is dedicated to strengthening the mental health among young people. “There is an immediate need for improved mental health support within schools, and the best thing we can do is to kick start this change,” explains Professor Damien Page, Dean of the Carnegie School of Education at Leeds Beckett University. “We work with hundreds of schools each year, and know that mental health difficulties are holding back too many children from succeeding at school, causing a significant impact on their education and broader life outcomes. “The case for doing something for both students and schools is compelling.” Breaking the stigma

The aim of the Carnegie Centre is to work with experts in children’s mental health to deliver training and support to teachers and school leaders. This will enable staff to better support children and inspire positive changes. “The issue of mental health is certainly one which needs to be addressed and talked about more openly, but stigma still holds too many back from sharing their concerns,” says Page. “At the most extreme, suicide is sadly the biggest killer of 20 to 34 year olds, and the second biggest killer of males under 20, so not talking about it is not an option. “We want to shine a light on this, learn from it, be innovative and challenge current ways of doing things, and to develop creative solutions for tackling these issues.”

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