Short Films for Mental Health Awareness Week 2023

Mental Health Awareness week on a Green Graphic with a Green ribbon.

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, an annual event held between 15th to 21st May, designed to shine a light on mental health.

This year’s theme is ‘anxiety’, a normal emotion and one of the most common mental health problems, which can become serious without adequate support and/or treatment.

A recent survey carried out by revealed that a quarter of all adults said they felt so anxious that it stopped them from doing the things they would ordinarily do.

Anxiety can be caused by many things, including relationships, jobs, exams, or other big life events, along with financial issues, which have been exacerbated for many by the current cost-of-living crisis.

It’s often hard to talk about mental health issues as there is still a stigma surrounding them, which leads to those suffering delaying seeking help, or not seeking help at all.

We at Visionary Arts believe that the power of great storytelling is so valuable in illustrating experiences, fostering understanding and sparking and normalising discussions around mental health, especially for those who have difficulty communicating their feelings.

Mainstream depiction of mental health issues in films can really help to break down the stigma due to the wide audiences they reach, however short films by independent filmmakers also play a role and can have a profound effect on those of us who have been dealing with these issues or are currently struggling with them. These often personal stories let us know that we are not alone, that we are understood and seen and can often provide hope.

For our annual Visionary Arts Awards this year, we decided to launch a new Short Film category, which included the finalists from our Short Film Competition. We recognise that not only can these types of films help to spread an important message, but they can be therapeutic throughout the creative process, as the act of filmmaking itself can provide a powerful means of self-expression and an emotional outlet which can have powerful and lasting effects on mental health.

You can watch these films below, which all do a great job of tackling important issues in the hope of broadening understanding and inspiring conversation around mental health.

When Life Goes Viral

A film directed by Manal El-feitury, explores some of the mental health issues exacerbated by the pandemic and the stigma around mental health.

Firm It

A film directed by Teni Gideon Ayankoya explores the hidden deeper meaning of the secrets of mental health in young black African boys, untangling stereotypes and revealing answers presenting the origin of violence and anger.


A film directed by Paul Jerndal explores mental health, showing Anis don Demina, Cecilia von Der Esch and Danny Saucedo as they meet their mirror images and their worst self-critical thoughts.

If you are suffering with anxiety or any other mental health issue and require help and support, please visit NHS.

For more information on mental health awareness, visit our blog.