Similar to students-targeted, educational videos for the general public are also basic so that everyone with different demographics can easily understand. Keeping it simple to watch while intriguing the audiences to find out more about the experience of living with mental conditions can be a tough challenge. But animation can be your savior. If you’d like to see how animation can flesh out the social aspects of mental illnesses, here are the videos you’d find helpful.
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8 best examples of mental health educational videos for students
8 examples of mental health public awareness videos
1. “I had a black dog, his name is depression”
This incredibly popular mental health educational video from the WHO captures the feeling of having depression effectively with the image of a black dog. This black dog follows people everywhere like a shadow that sometimes may become very small, but never really leaving.
With the image of the black dog clearly visible, depression becomes so much more tangible. A lot of people diagnosed with this condition attests to how accurate this presentation is. And even though the animation is made of still images, the expressions and postures of the characters still successfully invoke emotions and sympathy from children.
2. “In Between”
Now this is technically a short film — but that’s okay, because you can also view it as an animation visual aid that has successfully used the narrative power to add emotions and joy into an otherwise dry, textual subject.
And the special thing is this kind of story puts a lighter spin on a topic that too often emphasizes the hardships of mental conditions. Make no mistake: it is incredibly difficult trying to go on with your life when you’re constantly anxious — as the main character in “In Between” is — because you feel debilitated. The anxiety crocodile stops her from achieving so much; it often stands in the way of her happiness. But with the light tone, and the love-hate relationship that the animation managed to flesh out between the crocodile and our character, reminds us that having these feelings does not have to be the end of the world. We can learn about it, learn to face it and conquer it, even though it might never leave.
The message is not only beautifully portrayed in this hand-drawn animation, it’s also made unforgettable by the adorable French-influenced style that was used. It’s surely a stimulating addition to a class on raising awareness on anxiety for adult learners.
3. “Overcoming Bad Inner Voices”
The School of Life is another educational Youtube channel that makes full use of animation as a tool to present information. The special thing about this channel is the interesting art style. To say that it’s beautiful isn’t quite right — it just imitates a very contemporary art style that uses a lot of block images and primary colors. “Overcoming Bad Inner Voices,” for instance, is truly a work of art. This uniqueness is what makes the video so memorable.
And if this doesn’t help the information covered seem standout, then the ingenious use of background music should definitely do. The music in this video fluctuates with the mood and story told, engaging your sense of sound as well as the visual and verbal senses. It really pulls you into the world of the video and soon enough, you’d be surprised the lesson is all over.
4. “Sexual Harassment and Bullying”
Looking for an appetizer that will get people interested in looking at a rather tedious topic? This little clip should do the trick — it’s an introduction to mental wellbeing regulations within the University of New South Wales. As with any other university, every student is welcomed onto campus by going through a compulsory “course” about appropriate behaviors (e.g. acting with consent, avoiding bullying, avoiding being a bystander). A lot of it involves reading about what consent means, and answering scenario questions, which sounds rather tedious.
Which is where videos like this comes in. Not only does it show the exact environment that the students are in, it also provides some other material to engage the students without making them feel like they’re being lectured at. The video has a range of students from diverse backgrounds — which represents the diverse student audience — and it quickly summarizes all the information covered, helping students remember the most important bits about the training. After a video like this, they will probably feel more at ease and eager to learn more than to feel pressured into doing basic mental health training.
5. “Anxiety is the Greatest”
This video is rather special — it’s not from an educator per se but from a Youtuber who’s experienced anxiety before. She’s showing people (which is rather like educating them) about what it’s like to be living every day with these thoughts in your head.
Her style is rather cartoonish — her images are all hand-drawn, and they show a lot of her personality, as if she’s a friend of yours. The facial expressions that she draws are dramatic, although it’s so personal you feel like you can imagine her face actually expressing them. In most cases, it’s quite simple — there’s very little color — but it allows the script to shine through. And her script, even though it’s describing a very serious problem, is appropriately hilarious. Her video is entertaining and eye-opening.
6. “The Last Knit”
While technically a short movie, this strange story has a lot more meaning under the surface. It’s basically a story about a woman who does nothing other than knit. In fact, she doesn’t seem to be able to stop knitting at all, even when it leads to her downfall.
What has this got to do with mental health education? Well, this obsessive knitting is actually a metaphor for addiction. And this shows clearly not just in the story but also the slightly crazy appearance of the woman, as if she is hyperactive but cannot think of anything else. This interesting visualization of a very serious problem is nuanced and deep, and it asks the audience to empathize with the character as well as addicts, rather than label and discriminate against them.
And that’s the magic of animation — you don’t need to be actively teaching in order for you to educate others.
This example comes from Netflix’s mini-docuseries called The Mind, Explained. And instead of looking at a mental health issue, the video examines a common solution proposed for these issues: being mindful. This often goes hand in hand with breathing techniques and mediation.
The animation is used in this video as an aid. It is largely featured in the telling of the “Mr Fox and Mr Turtle” story that many Buddhist monks have been taught. In this tale, Mr Fox is a representative of all the troubles that one may face — it is hungry and looking to attack and devour prey, such as Mr Turtle. Mr Turtle at this point pulls into his shell in the hopes that Mr Fox will grow tired of a hunk of rock, which is how he escapes Mr Fox’s hunt. The moral is that when you’re faced with problems threatening to unravel your life, you can choose to take a step back into yourself and come to terms with your thoughts and feelings. It’s the best way to brave the storm rather than running away from your problems.
What’s special is that this animated Mr Fox exists not only in the hand-drawn scenes, he appears in live footage too, specifically when the interviewees talk about external problems that we face. In other words, the symbolism of the animation transcends the animation itself, leaving a strong association in the viewers.
8. “Panic Attack: Know the Signs”
This 3-minute mental health education video is simply made with vector animation, but it’s still very helpful. By telling a heartfelt, real-life story through the movements of the character, viewers can learn about the often badly-understood condition of having a panic attack. From symptoms in the body to the occurrences of the brain, panic attacks can seriously damage a person’s psyche as well as their physical health. The video emphasizes this through clear images and a strong voiceover.
The music made the video a little less boring or tiring to watch, so the audience sticks around. In any case, the video effectively summarizes information that would have taken too long to be processed without the help of visualization. Which means that the video is short enough to fit our attention span. That makes it a great video for teaching.
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Mental health is not an individual’s personal problem. Raising public awareness, educating society through animated videos are some of the initiatives in dealing with this “21st-century illness”. From summarizing information to telling moving anecdotes, animation can surely capture viewers’ attention, leave an impression, and evoke sympathy from them.