Mental health patient documentary wins top prize at Northampton Film Festival

Judges said the film left them “wanting more”

Wednesday, 15th June 2022, 1:28 pm

An “emotive story” told by an “empowered” patient from a mental health hospital has won a top prize at the Northampton Film Festival 2022.

‘A Life Worth Living’, which told the recovery story of Kayleigh who was admitted to St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton three years ago, was named Best Documentary at the film event after scoring 28.5 out of 30 by the judging panel.

Judge Kerrie Cosh, who is also a BBC Radio Northampton presenter, described it as an “emotive story which invites you into an angle we rarely see portrayed when discussing mental health. [It] empowered Kayleigh’s story, and gave her a fantastic voice. Left me actually wanting more”.

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Kayleigh agreed to waive her right to anonymity because she wanted to help break the stigma that is commonly associated with complex mental health problems.

The 25-year-old said: “I want people to understand that mental health can affect anyone and just because you’ve got a mental illness, it doesn’t define you as a person, it’s just a part of who you are.

“When I first arrived at St Andrew’s I didn’t really see a future, I was that depressed. I tried to take my own life several times and I very nearly succeeded on a couple of occasions, but thankfully I’m still here and I feel like I have a future now.”

Screen Northants, which runs Northampton Film Festival, shortlisted A Life Worth Living after being impressed by the high-production values and hearing Kayleigh’s experience of being sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Left to right: Jo Lehmann and the Northampton Film Festival Director Becky Adams.

The Film Festival director Becky Adams said: “This is the first year at the Northampton Film Festival that we’ve had a specific category for documentaries and I’m so glad we did as we’ve been able to cover some really powerful subjects.

“A Life Worth Living gave us a real insight into complex mental health and what was really interesting was hearing how Kayleigh has finally found hope. Hope for her health and future, which I think is really inspiring and I would like to thank Kayleigh for bravely talking about her journey and for the St Andrew’s Healthcare team for lifting the lid on a subject which many people tend to shy away from.”

The 10-minute short film is based on the half hour documentary I’m Not Mad, I’m Me, which was co-produced, directed and edited by Catherine Rose. As well as Kayleigh, it also featured two other patients, who discussed their mental health struggles and their recovery journey while at the charity hospital.

Jess Lievesley the charity’s interim CEO added: “We are thrilled to have won this award and we would like to thank the judges and Screen Northants for providing us with the opportunity to showcase our documentary. We would like to thank Kayleigh, who was brave enough to tell her story on camera and bring much-needed awareness to complex mental health.

“I think we all need to get better at having these conversations about these issues as there’s still such a stigma, despite the years of positive progress that has been made from within the sector.”