BexSimon ArtSmith BlackSmith

World Mental Health Day 2016

A short time back I was approach by a group of 1st year film and media students and asked if I would take part in producing a short documentary about being a female artist blacksmith. I met with Barney, one of the students, at my house and we discussed the project.  We have worked with students before and I think it’s a great opportunity for them and also for us to work together.

For quite a while I have wanted to make a positive film about working and living with Bipolar, so I suggested it to the group and they were more than happy to explore this angle.

We filmed for a few days and as I was being asked the questions they had compiled; you could see the effect that learning more about Bipolar was having on the team. I normally don’t really get nervous doing video’s because we do quite a bit for our business, but I did have nerves being filmed talking about this, letting this subject about my mental health be taken out of my hands. It was slightly emotional all round I think.

After a day’s filming in my workshop and again at home, the students went away to edit the footage into shape prior to submitting for their imminent end of year assessment.  This is what they produced and rightfully gained a first for…

I had wanted to submit the film for last year’s UK mental health Week, however, there were a couple of points I wanted to change that we had not had time to review prior to the students’ assignment submission.  Unfortunately, time was not on our side again and the changes we never made.  Then over the summer Barney got in touch with me again saying he had been asked by Baroness Hollins if he would like to screen the documentary at the Mental Wealth Festival 2016 which she is the patron of.


When Barney approached me about the screening I was super excited but also had a few concerns as we hadn’t made the changes I wanted. There were two scenes in particular.  The first featured me saying how I limit my medication, and the other was the scene of me describing a ‘moment’ on a train.

The film had to carry the right message to other people who might be managing their own Bipolar, so for them it might be essential to take all their medication but for me after years of trying to work creatively I discovered I had to limit my meds in order not to lose my creativity. However, because of my work it means I can channel my illness into my art, I guess in a way it’s my therapy but I feel more it’s more my life.

Also because this film is to inspire others with the illness, the section about my train journey seems perhaps a little tame to some of the extreme things I have experienced but the team had read a blog I wrote years ago about my tips for working with Bipolar and thought it would be a good visual to use in the documentary.

Reading about the event I loved the positivity the festival carries. When the word mental health is mentioned you can quite literally see people’s expressions glaze over with a slight look of panic as to where the conversation is going to take them. This is a friendly, upbeat and fantastic approach – a genius vision to high light and hopefully loose the stigma that is shockingly still in the 21st Century.

The 3-minute film screening was allocated an hour long slot so we put together a talk about my experiences in making the film, my experiences of running a blacksmith business as a working Artist and a mum.  show others it is possible to get married and have a family.

After the viewing the feedback was really positive.  The audience loved the film and thought the way Barney and his team had made it informative and to the point was spot on.  The session did also inspire a couple of recently diagnosed people who thought that their idea of any normal life is over. It was quite over welling.

Bex Simon

Today is World Mental Wealth Day and if you would like to contribute to The Mental Wealth Foundation that would be fantastic, these charities need your help.




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