Don't Tell Me to Just Breathe (2022)


This beautiful and timely animation speaks to the spiralling levels of anxiety and depression the UK and other rich nations are experiencing by revealing the often silenced links between these mental health crises and the current economic system, including not only the increasing pressures upon people’s basic needs, but also the ‘capitalist realism’ that allows climate breakdown to unfold before our very eyes. The film ends by introducing a Wellbeing Economy as a system that would function within social and environmental boundaries. Sharing this film may help others see the connections, and may help reduce the stigma still associated with anxiety and depression that persist due to the dominant narrative of 'personal responsibility' for mental health.

Through the eyes of a young care sector worker, the film creatively explores the interplay between the inner and outer dimensions of system change and of mental health. The second half introduces the key pillars of a Wellbeing Economy as a solution set, pointing out that collective mental health can only be secured by a system that respects the boundaries of everyone's wellbeing, and of nature, and where the future is no longer sacrificed on the altar of eternal economic growth. Mental health issues in a fragmented world are often not an illness but a response. We urgently need to regain a richer, more satisfying understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. 

The project, created by Swarm Dynamics together with CUSP also encourages civil society groups to explore the potentials of communicating research into the correlations between climate change, late capitalism and mental health outcomes, to help strengthen social movements, break silos, and reduce stigma deriving from the dominant narrative of ‘personal responsibility’. Please share widely for World Mental Health day, COP and beyond! 

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