Thomas Denton

Speaking out on mental health

May 10th, 2013

Students across the country are facing increasing financial challenges and an ever-more competitive graduate job market.

While the majority of students cope well with these issues, the Office of National Statistics reported the number of student suicides rose by 50% between 2007 and 2011. The Royal College of Psychiatrists also revealed that more British students are seeking help from mental health support services.

For one Nottingham student, such findings underline the need to support students who suffer from mental health conditions, while publicising the help available to them in engaging and innovative ways.

Thomas Denton has helped the Nottingham University Television Station (NUTS) to set up a campaign to give a student voice to conditions, including depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, eating disorders, psychosis and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Mental: My Take will see practitioners, students and the public talking on video about their mental health experiences, the support services available and the unique strengths which those dealing with mental health issues possess.

Executive Producer Thomas explained: “The idea of Mental: My Take is to look behind the label of mental health, to bring out the human voice, seek to demystify related issues and fight discrimination. By talking to those affected we want to show that it is not something to be afraid of.

“Great strengths are brought out in people who have suffered from mental health issues. They often have a unique skill set because they have had to not only deal with the challenges we all face, but have had to manage their condition on a day-to-day basis.”

With the backing of Nightline, Rethink, Mental Wealth UK, the Mind Mental Health Foundation and the University, Thomas is keen to fill what he sees as a gap in support for people aged 14-23.

He said: “I started this project because I have suffered with depression myself and it took me a long time to find the right resources. It struck me that I couldn’t talk about how I was feeling, partly because I didn’t want to let people know and partly because it never felt appropriate. So I want to talk about these issues in a way that stands out and makes sense to a student audience.

“Through the use of YouTube, we want to build a repository of information — of first-person testimonials, which allow people to hear about the personal feelings and experiences of peers coping with similar issues. By allowing anyone to view it, it becomes more than a documentary, it becomes a resource.”

Alongside the videos the producers have arranged a radio show on URN alongside workshops hosted by mental health organisation Time to Change. Mental Wealth, the Disabled Network and Student Services will also encourage proactive support and open discussions about mental health.

Dr Hugh Middleton, Lecturer in the School of Sociology and Social Policy, wants University staff to engage with Mental: My Take in order to learn more about mental health issues and better support any students or colleagues experiencing them.

He explained: “Many of the more longstanding consequences of mental health problems are due to misconceptions and ‘lay’ misunderstandings. Changing attitudes is an important part of changing this. Opening more public debate and discussion enables that, and makes it easier for those in difficulty to adopt a more realistic view of their problems.”

A grant of just over £3,000 from the University’s Cascade fund greenlighted the project and Thomas and co-producers Jessica Courtney and Wawa Hunja are now looking for staff and students to discuss their mental health experiences on camera. If you are interested in getting involved, please email

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One Comment

May 15th, 2013 at 8:33 am

Dee Speers (@JoinedU1)

Brilliant Thomas….very well done! Will pass on email info to fellow contacts and also ask for article to be forwarded. You are doing vital work…. Thank you

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