Great storytelling will immerse the audience by explaining the story in a relatable way. But how do you enable an audience to relate to something as personal as mental illness?

Although mental illnesses have names and definitions to explain what they are, each experience is unique to the person with the illness. The last thing we as storytellers would want to do is show something that stereotypes, underestimates, or overestimates the depth of a problem. This was a challenge for our production team here at EM-Media when we were producing public service announcements for Youth System Services and Quiet Minds.

Gabe_Storytelling_CliffYouth Services System (YSS) was founded in 1974 to provide resources and care to at-risk youth in the Ohio Valley. YSS describes its mission on its website this way:

“Nearly 42 years ago, a group of caring and concerned individuals, passionate about responding to the needs of abused, neglected, runaway, and delinquent youth founded Ohio County Youth Services System. These individuals came from all walks of life but were single minded about one thing – youth represent our future and deserve our most creative and faithful efforts to ensure their needs are met with effective responses.”

YSS and its Quiet Minds campaign, aimed at promoting the treatment of mental health in youth, have been clients of ours for three years. Our goal for this particular project was to produce PSAs that encourage people experiencing mental illness to seek treatment, to know they are not alone in their problems, to know that their problems don’t define them, and to break down stigmas attached to mental illness.

Thankfully, we were able to have a person who has actually experienced a mental illness write the scripts and act on camera for the shoot, so that we could tell the story carefully and genuinely.

This was a huge factor in making the PSAs relatable. The other major factor in making the tone as real as possible was using real locations that the actress likes to go when she is in deep thought. This made it her story, not ours.

In anything we produce, we search for the most effective way to convey a message. Sometimes, having others tell a client’s story is best, such as a testimonial from a satisfied customer. Often, telling it from a firsthand perspective is best. We’re willing to do what it takes to tell a story the way that it should be told.

If you have a story to tell, consider letting us help you tell it. We’d love to talk to you more, so click below to connect with us.

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