AN INNOVATIVE short film by Support in Mind Scotland's Life Skills Project about the difficulties people with mental ill health have experienced when undergoing employment and benefits assessments has premiered in the town's Robert Burns Centre.

The film – You Cannot See - is the result of a two-year project by the Project's Drama Group, based at Gordon Street. It was screened for the first time to a full house on Wednesday (7 October), followed by a lively question and answer session and an out-takes segment.

The film is available to view on Support in Mind Scotland’s YouTube channel and its release coincides with World Mental Health Day on Saturday (10 October).

You Cannot See stars seven service users, one carer, and one family member, as well as one volunteer, and comprises a number of head to head scenes based on real-life experiences and the difficulties, fears,  and frustrations people with mental ill health have encountered during interviews and assessments for benefits and employment.

Members of the Drama Group have thoroughly enjoyed their involvement and all their hard work came to fruition at Wednesday's premiere.

Here are a few quotes from those involved and what they got out of it: 

  • “Just being involved in a Group where I’m allowed to express myself has been good.”
  • “I am now much more comfortable talking in a group. I used to avoid things like this, now I go to 3 groups every week.”
  • “I have become much more aware of other people’s opinions.”
  • “I really enjoyed the writing.”
  • “It’s good to get the opportunity to tell people something.”
  • “It’s allowed us to do something that will hopefully raise awareness of an important issue.”

John Scott, Life Skills Project Co-ordinator, produced You Cannot See, and is proud of the way the drama group have worked together to deliver a powerful message.

He explained: “There was very strong agreement from all those in the group that they felt it had been really good that they had been given the opportunity to speak out about something that causes them great distress. The majority of the group have been through the assessment process at least once.

“Part of my job involves supporting people through the process, which includes form filling, attending assessments with them, and helping them to appeal, when required. Inevitably, the topic would come up in conversation within the Drama Group, so it seemed to make sense to turn it into a creative process, and allow people to say what they felt.

“The skills and experiences they have gained along the way are those that apply to all the groups we run. We encourage people to express themselves verbally, in written form, or through art and photography.

"We try to develop people’s listening skills, and encourage them to voice opinions and ideas with others, as well as giving consideration to other people opinions and ideas. We try to get people comfortable being with other people, and help them to re-discover much of what their illness has taken away. All of this, when it works, leads to more confident individuals, who hopefully feel a little bit better about themselves.

 “There have also been a few artistic disagreements during the project, and those in the group have had to learn to negotiate and compromise. Although at times quite stressful and fraught, we got there in the end, and I think they would all agree it was worth going through this to get the end product.”

The whole project, from conception to completion took just under two years, although this was meeting just once each week, for 2-3 hours each time. 

John added: "As is often the case with challenges, when it works it can be very rewarding. This film project is a good example of that. I have really enjoyed giving people the opportunity to tell their story and voice their concerns, in what I hope is both a creative and productive way.

The Life Skills Project is a multi-award-winning employability service that provides learning opportunities for people aged 16 to 65 affected by mental ill health. The aim of all our courses is to enhance quality of life and promote social interaction, while also increasing the confidence, self-esteem and independence of learners.

Click here to watch the video.