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‘Important that we have these conversations’: Nurses bring back film screenings in Aberdeen to challenge mental health

Lecturers Dan Warrender and Scott Macpherson discuss tackling the stigma around mental health through films.

Aberdeen-based mental health nurses are bringing back their mental health focussed film screenings after they were put on pause by Covid.

Dan Warrender and Scott Macpherson use films as a way to encourage open and honest conversations around mental health and experiences.

In 2016, they founded Mental Health Movie Monthly (MHMM) which was a popular event for Robert Gordon University students, staff and members of the public.

The mental health nurses, who both lecture at RGU, used this platform as a way to make mental health discussions more accessible and engaging by hosting free film screenings.

These screenings would then be followed by discussions around themes of mental health relevant to the showing.

The last film screened by MHMM was Fargo on March 16 2020, just before the UK-wide Covid restrictions were enforced.

During lockdown, Mr Warrender and Mr Macpherson changed their group name to Mental Health in Movies (MHIM).

With cinema spaces reopening in Scotland, MHIM has returned with a brand new podcast as well as plans for film events and discussions in 2022.

The pair aim to showcase a wide range of films to emphasise the fact that everyone has mental health, and mental health experiences can be found in all sorts of stories.

Mr Warrender said: “I’m really looking forward to getting out there and discussing mental health in film with my good friend as well as the wider public.

“It never feels like hard work, but it always feels important that we have these conversations.”

First showing in 20 months

On Tuesday MHIM will be hosting their first showing in 20 months – Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

The film will start at 6.30pm at Belmont Filmhouse’s Kino Bar and will have English captions to make the event accessible.

MHIM will host their first screening since the pandemic at the Belmont Filmhouse. Picture by Kenny Elrick.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles is a John Hughes comedy from 1987, starring Steve Martin and John Candy.

The story follows Neal, who is on his way home for Thanksgiving. When his flight is cancelled, he ends up meeting Del, a goofy salesman.

Together, they tumble through a series of misadventures as they try to get home in time for the holidays.

Mr Macpherson explained: “I can’t wait to use one of my all-time favourite comedies to create conversations around mental health.

“The pandemic really affected our ability to provide these sorts of showings for people so we’re really excited to be able to do this in-person again.”

He hopes the public will turn up to support the initiative and “enjoy a great film in comfortable surroundings, followed by some judgement-free discussion”.

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