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Facing Shadows: working with young people to coproduce a short film about depression

Dunn, V., O'Keeffe, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-6713-2898, Stapley, E. & Midgley, N. (2018). Facing Shadows: working with young people to coproduce a short film about depression. Research Involvement and Engagement, 4(1), article number 46. doi: 10.1186/s40900-018-0126-y


Background: IMPACT (Improving Mood with Psychoanalytic and Cognitive Therapies) is a multi-centre randomised controlled trial of three therapeutic interventions for the treatment of depression in young people. IMPACT- My Experience (IMPACT-ME), a qualitative research study, followed up a sub-sample of families involved in IMPACT to explore young people's experiences of therapy and depression. Members of the IMPACT-ME steering group, who brought their own experiences of depression and engaging with mental health services, were keen to find ways to provide information about depression and help-seeking beyond traditional academic audiences, specifically to other young people experiencing depression and wondering where to turn: their chosen medium was film. Here we describe and reflect on the four-day coproduction workshops in which researchers, young people and film-makers coproduced 'Facing Shadows', a short animation about depression and therapy (

Main body: We outline the process, focusing on the four-day creative, collaborative workshop in which young people shared their experiences, decided on the tone, tenor and message of the film, identified their primary audience and produced the bulk of the audio and visual material. The adults acted as facilitators: developing a creative, collaborative learning environment in which trusting relationships could flourish, as well as offering guidance, instruction, advice and support. To date the film has been viewed around 12,000 times on YouTube. The young people learned new skills, felt listened to and enjoyed the process. They produced a film which sends a hopeful message to other young people, '… that they are not alone'.

Conclusion: We reflect on the creative participatory workshop approach which transformed the project from dissemination to an insightful learning experience for young people and researchers alike.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © The Author(s). 2018 Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
Publisher Keywords: Animation; Coproduction; Creative; Depression; Involvement; Participation; Research; Young people
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
R Medicine > RJ Pediatrics > RJ101 Child Health. Child health services
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
SWORD Depositor:
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