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Press Release: Foolish Optimism Launch

Press Release: Foolish Optimism Launch

Our warm thanks to Grainger PR for the following press release.

A mental health film and national roadshow were launched in Dundee today (Wednesday 10 October 2018), coinciding with World Mental Health Day. As part of the Year of Young People 2018, ‘Foolish Optimism’, which aims to raise awareness of mental health, remind Scotland’s young people that they are not alone, and act as a catalyst for national change, was unveiled at the city’s Steps Theatre. The audience of around 150 guests included representatives from youth groups, charities, local authority, NHS, funders and the Independent Care Review.

Last year, Dundee residents Michael Elliott and Marie Gibson, both care experienced young people, approached local charity Front Lounge to create a film about mental health. Six months later, ‘Foolish Optimism’ was born, exploring the stories of three young people living with mental health challenges throughout Scotland – Andrew Gibson (17), Chris McDonald (30) and Zoe MacKenzie (25). Issues covered in the 20 minute film include mental health triggers, stigma, seeking help and coping mechanisms.

The film doubled up as a research project, with the results shared by University of Dundee graduate Zoe MacKenzie at a symposium earlier this year, resulting in calls for the film to be shared nationally. Front Lounge went on to attract funding from Year of Young People National Lottery Fund and Life Changes Trust, with a crowdfunding campaign also now underway to help fund other aspects of the project – https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/foolish-optimism

Building on the film itself, the Foolish Optimism roadshow is now heading out across Scotland, with plans for a host of events and activities aimed at gathering more stories, sparking discussion and breaking the silence often associated with mental health issues. The roadshow will culminate in a celebratory finale in early December, focusing on hope and the future. A dedicated website was also launched today – https://www.foolishoptimism.org – which, as well as hosting details of the roadshow events, will act as a vehicle to receive mental health stories through an online survey, whether named or anonymously. At the end of the roadshow, a report will be created and fed into a number of reviews now taking place across the country.

Chika Inatimi, Front Lounge Project Leader said, “This tour has been initiated by young people and our ultimate goal is to encourage young people to talk openly about mental health within their current networks and situations. Despite all the services out there, there remains a persistent and nagging suspicion that there is something wrong with people if they openly discuss mental health problems. Young people in particular need to know that they are not alone. We will share the stories we gather and, wherever practicable, feed the collected conversations into local and national strategies.”

Zoe MacKenzie added, “If my involvement in the film can help just one other person, it’ll be worth it. I’ve been talking about my mental health for around 11 years, and try to ‘own’ it. By speaking openly, I hope to give others the confidence to do the same. For me, it was about taking an abstract thing like mental health and bringing it down to ground level – but also about humanising it, by bringing a voice and a face into it, to show others what it’s like to live with these challenges. I also realise that it’s hard for our friends and families to help us sometimes, so giving them an understanding of how we feel might help them, and allow them and the health sector generally, to be more responsive to our needs. Mental health has come a long way, but there’s a long way to go and this project is a great opportunity to spark a national conversation, especially in what is the Year of Young People.”

Four ambassadors have also been appointed to promote the film, including Kevin Ditcham, Dundee-based suicide prevention trainer who commented, “It’s so fantastic to see young people coming together to collectively create this really important discussion in their local communities. Through the power of film, people can gain a greater sense of what it’s like to experience poor mental health and the stigma often associated with seeking help. During Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018, it’s more important than ever that projects like this give young people a safe space to create their own solutions to deal with issues they face. Foolish Optimism is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when young people’s vision is realised and I hope it will encourage more young Scots to talk about mental health, ask for help when they need it, and reduce rates of suicide in Scotland.”

Fellow ambassador Felicity Snowsill, Senior Health Promotion Officer, Sexual health & BBV team and Manager of  http://www.cool2talk.org/ added, “I was really taken with the honesty and candour of the young people involved in the film. It is so important, although sometimes hard, to really listen to young people’s voices, and this is an important film to contribute to the conversation on how we can best support young people to build resilience and hope, and provide the services they need to do this.”

The film was created by Dundee film-maker Nathaniel Inatimi, with support from Kyle Henderson and Chika Inatimi. The film features the voices of Zoe MacKenzie, Chris McDonald and Andrew Gibson. Workshop contributors were Chloe Meldrum, Alice Stuart, Jordan Millar, Shona Inatimi, Zoe MacKenzie, Amy Revell, Michael Elliott, Shantelle Lawson and Kai Anderson, Magnus Hogarth, Darce-Leigh Meldrum and Lilly Brown. Talking Heads, the initial filming which took place, leading to the research project featured Marie Gibson, Shantelle Lawson, Amy Revell, Jordan Millar, Rosemary Head and Michael Elliott.

Talking Heads was made possible with support from Big Lottery’s Young Start Fund.

Useful Services

Samaritans offer a free listening service for anyone who is struggling to cope. There is no age restriction, and you don't have to give them any personal details if you don't want to. You can call them free in the UK on 116 123.

Mindfulness is a useful technique for dealing with anxiety in your day-to-day life. It helps you to stay present in the moment and not retreat into your own mind, where anxiety can take over. Find out more about mindfulness from Mindfulness Scotland.

Habitica is an app which can help you keep on top of your day-to-day responsibilities. By setting and completing small tasks, you can unlock rewards, upgrades and even pets! Mental health challenges can often impact your daily routine, and having a rewarding way of keeping track of your successes can be very helpful.

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