By Dr. Gursharan Virdee, CAMH Psychologist and Researcher
During Mental Health Awareness Week and South Asian Heritage Month in May, CAMH had a unique opportunity to showcase its research with South Asian communities on the world stage by premiering four films at the International Film Festival of South Asia (IFFSA) held in the Greater Toronto Area.
The films were produced as part of The Roshni Project, a multi-phase research project aimed at enhancing the mental well-being of young South Asian women, funded by the CAMH Foundation. Through a model of co-creation, the research team worked with women with lived experience to create a series of short films telling the untold stories of young South Asian women’s experiences of mental health and recovery.
Participants led every aspect of the creative process – the concepts, script writing, costumes and props – with the direction of Maithili Venkataraman, a local award-winning filmmaker who worked on Deepa Mehta’s Anatomy of Violence.
This was an exciting collaboration through which to address mental health stigma within South Asian communities and spread the message of Mental Health is Health through film.
“Mental health is a subject that is either so easily discarded or misunderstood by many, especially within South Asian dialogue,” says Maithili. “This leads to alienation and even more disillusionment for someone trying to come to terms with their state of mind.
“Personally, I think art in any form helps in breaking the barriers of silence that we have been enveloped into. That's what drew me to The Roshni Project – one step forward, for all of us, and to remind us that we're not alone.”