For many adolescents even acknowledging the dark thoughts that have a habit of creeping inside young minds is terrifying – let alone discussing them.
Beginning the process of getting help can feel like taking that first frightening step into unfamiliar waters, at least that was the thinking of Desert Pea Media filmmaker Mitch O’Hearn.
“While discussing ideas for the film I was remembering summer as a child in Orange,” Mr O’Hearn said.
“The pool diving board terrifying me, I walked up their once and I just couldn’t do it – it made me think that jumping off that board is like taking that first scary step to seek support.”
Desert Pea Media recruited psychologist Nathan Sutherland to help tell the story of how Indigenous young people experience this process.
“There is a shame factor for Indigenous young people which is prevalent throughout the entire Indigenous community,” Mr Sutherland said.
“Being expressive and being open about mental health creates a fear around how they might be perceived by others and how others might respond to them.”
The short film is one of 12 being filmed in rural areas – from Walgett to Wellington – raising awareness of how anxiety, depression and other illnesses affect indigenous youth.
Many of Mr Sutherland’s patients are young Indigenous men and women from Orange, he said this demographic is more likely to experience anxiety and depression than their non-indigenous peers.
“Despite the progress that has been made to reduce bullying in schools it is still a major problem,” said Mr Sutherland.
“While we have a lot of support services in Orange there are often long waiting lists to see professionals – young people need help navigating the system.”
Alongside Mr Sutherland, the Desert Pea Media film features brothers Caleb Sutherland, as the young star trying to manage his mental health, and Jacob Sutherland the family member he reaches out to.
“I hope young people are encouraged by this film to be open and expressive about these issues,” said Mr Sutherland.
“I hope they gain insight into signs to look out for among their peers and the process of accessing help.”
Desert Pea Media is in discussion regarding screening and distribution of the films.