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Outreach   /  Shannon Harvey

My Year of Living Mindfully

In the midst of a global mental health crisis, an investigative journalist puts mindfulness meditation to the test.


Impact areas



  • DIRECTOR Julian and Shannon Harvey

  • PRODUCER Julian and Shannon Harvey



In the midst of a global mental health crisis, millions of people have turned to mindfulness. But does it actually make us happier and healthier? In a world-first experiment, journalist Shannon Harvey recruited a team of scientists to put mindful meditation to the test. But what began as a year-long self-experiment soon became a life-changing experience.

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Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

The leading medical journal, The Lancet, has declared that every country in the world is facing and failing to tackle a host of mental health problems. Even if there was such as thing as ‘preventative psychology’, if all of our qualified psychologists and psychiatrists worked 24/7, they’d be able to spend one hour with each of us, once every five years. Clearly the current approach to mental wellbeing isn’t working.

But the inspiration for this film is also very personal. Like for so many others, the wounds of mental illness run deep for journalist Shannon Harvey, who now faces a lifetime of chronic pain due to an incurable autoimmune disease.

Although lifestyle activities such as eating well, sleeping enough and exercising regularly are all recommended, this is a film investigating something more concrete that we can all be doing for ourselves to protect, nurture and nourish our minds.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

At a time when people are craving trustworthy and reliable information about their health and wellbeing, our mission is to increase awareness and knowledge, shift attitudes, and inspire people and organisations to deeply commit to evidence-based, preventive and lifestyle health and wellbeing.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

The film and impact campaign have been designed to intentionally shift the zeitgeist from over-simplistically raising awareness about mental health, to encouraging robust discussions about preventive and specific evidence-based mental health interventions. Additionally, the film successfully shifts the collective conversation away from ‘does mindfulness work’ to ‘how, for whom and in what circumstances does mindfulness help,’ while still addressing commercialisation and the mindfulness backlash.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

Starting with an award-winning festival circuit, with premieres in Australia, the US and UK in March 2020, the film has since been released online, with the help of 58 partner organisations and a follow-up Host Your Own Screening program. Additional and ongoing content in the form of weekly newsletters, blogs, podcasts and social media is further bolstering impact and supporting a thriving online community.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

From the early development stages, we began establishing relationships with key partner organisations and scientists in the U.S., UK, Australia and Israel, many of which are featured in the film. Their input has significantly informed the direction of the film.

The film features leading researchers from Oxford, Brown, UCLA, Miami, Melbourne, Deakin, and Monash universities, among many others. It also includes interviews with molecular biologist-turned Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, Good Morning America host Dan Harris, best-selling author Daniel Goleman, pioneering neuroscientist Richard Davidson, and mindfulness influencer, Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

We’re dedicated to sparking meaningful conversations about our health and wellbeing that inspire real change and we believe that documentary film provides a unique opportunity to connect audiences with lifestyle medicine and preventive health strategies that can make a difference in their lives.

This film is designed to make an impact on multiple levels; from inspiring individuals to take up (and stick to) a regular mindfulness practice, to catalysing new partnerships between community groups and scientists, to galvanizing businesses and medical organisations to spread the film throughout their workplace wellbeing programs.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Since its world-wide release in May 2020, our data indicates that the film is engaging a diverse and global audience. Impact is measured on a number of levels including but not limited to:
– Audience reach, awareness and engagement across all platforms
– Film industry accolades
– Mainstream media exposure
– Encouraging recruitment in scientific studies
– Number of education, mental health, medical and workplace wellbeing programs using the film