The Common Thread is a documentary web-series presented by acclaimed short-form filmmaker Darius Devas that examines the lives of young Australians suffering from around the country experiencing various mental health conditions. The series is driven by Darius’ desire to understand the loss of his friend to suicide and his own journey through anxiety. The series has received production finance from Screen Australia and is looking to raise the final funds for the post-production and to finance our online rollout strategy, publicity and educational package that will be created to use in schools.
A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing
According to The Black Dog Institute, almost half of all Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime. Yet there is still a stigma around these issues, leaving many young Australians feeling isolated and disconnected. The Common Thread is a deeply personal project for me, having not only lost two friends to suicide, but also having faced my own struggles with anxiety, and witnessed many of my friends wrestle with their various mental health conditions. The most powerful way I can contribute is to change people's perspectives and normalise mental health through the personal stories of everyday Australians. I want to go out and engage with people from my generation who have and continue to, suffer from experiences of mental ill health. These stories will encourage the audience to reflect on their own lives and have the courage to be honest with themselves and others if they believe they are experiencing any of these conditions.
What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?
Mental health is a serious and widespread issue. We want to see a public conversation in which these issues are talked about regularly, openly and honestly. We want to empower young people with the skills and awareness they need to manage their own issues and support others. Above all we want to see a society where all young Australians know that they are not alone in their experiences of mental health, that these issues are normal and that there are clear avenues towards support and connection.
What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?
The specific outcomes that the series aims to achieve include: Increased understanding and awareness of the diversity and prevalence of mental health issues in young Australians aged 18-35. Clearly highlighting the tools available to manage mental health via programs, communities and mental health organisations. Educating people about how to talk about the issues and supporting others who may be experiencing them.
How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?
To achieve these outcomes the series and associated impact campaign will: Provide a comprehensive Study Guide with role-playing exercises and a written component to be distributed in schools. Create social media space and information network that will educate people about the issues and direct people to appropriate professional mental health services and organisations. Provide a platform for conversation and support on social media channels. Partnering with key mental health organisations and other media publications with large audience reach to share the message as widely as possible.
How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?
We have partnered with HeadSpace as the project’s major distribution partner, content advisors and pathway to audience. HeadSpace are Australia’s leading and largest national youth mental health organisation. We have also partnered with the following mental health organisations: Orygen Youth Mental Health, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre, the Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, Bipolar Australia, Sane Australia, One Wave and Mindfulness.com. Headspace will provide professional guidance during the production and post production phases to make sure that the content is appropriate and reaches its audience in the most supportive and empowering way possible.
Audience Engagement and Social Impact
What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?
We believe that honesty and vulnerability is key to breaking down barriers and misconceptions we have in our society and importantly, show that we are all dealing with our own issues. After watching The Common Thread we hope that viewers reflect on their own lives and have the courage to be honest if they believe they are experiencing any of these conditions. We want young Australians to be confident to begin sharing their experiences with others and to feel empowered to make changes in their lives and seek professional help if they need it.
Measurement and Evaluation
What is the projects indicators for success?
The key to measuring the success of The Common Thread will be focused on online tools and qualitative feedback. We will design and implement a strategic online survey to measure impact. We will use social media analytics to determine the number of views, shares and engagement of the video and impact campaign content. The success of the school programs and study guides will be measured by the number of downloaded and implemented school programs along with feedback from the users. In addition to these measures, social media and the mailing list will provide opportunities for the audience to provide qualitative feedback and their own stories to provide impacting statements.