Advocates for Understanding: Creativity Scholars on Mental Health

2016 Adobe Creativity Scholars illuminate our society and the issues that matter to them. They convey their ideas about inclusion, as well as demonstrating the importance of human rights and the environment. These themes are featured in a 7-part series and today our Creativity Scholars explore film, radio and animation to tell the trials and tribulations of mental health that are hard to see. These stories show the impact of depression, trauma, poverty, and disabilities on our communities while urging us to act.

“I want to find ways to treat traumas that impact entire communities. Stories will help me do that work.” – Mimansa Dogra

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Adam Madojemu, 19
Burnby, British Columbia, Canada

Adam wrote and directed I Had Strings, a timely short film documenting the impact on a young boy who loses his brother in a suicide bombing that takes place in their Nigerian hometown. Distraught, the boy drifts through life in silence. “This true story affected me, and I needed to address the subject and the possible effects on the child’s psyche.”

Photo courtesy of KUOW
Photo courtesy of KUOW

Mimansa Dogra, 18
Bellevue, Washington, USA

On RadioActive Youth Media, Mimansa broadcasts Karen Taylor’s story, Prison Debt Forces Ex-Inmate To Be ‘Content With Being Broke’. Karen discusses her experience with sexual assault as a child, and how she was placed in juvenile detention for “acting out in school”. After spending many years of her life in and out of prison, Karen was released and is now working to serve youth in her community. To this day, she struggles with the continued impact of her imprisonment, including her struggle with poverty and paying off thousands of dollars in court fees. “Storytelling removes stigma from people and their experiences. It opens the doors for conversations around trauma and legitimizes the pain that is felt by the entire community.”                  

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Bianca Dente, 20
Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Bianca’s short film, Musa reveals the escalating levels of frustration and depression that can lead a person to inflict harm on themselves and others. She portrays a musician who suffers from alcoholism and ultimately commits an act of gun violence upon his muse. For Bianca, “Art, in addition to being beautiful, brings up topics that should not be ignored, in ways that are difficult to ignore.”

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Sonika Verma, 17
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“I want to use my creativity to bring and encourage a positive change.” In her short film Helping Depression, Sonika normalizes young people with mental health conditions to challenge and overcome those stigmas that prevent them from seeking help. Sonika shows that when we unmask depression we are empowered to discover empathy and support with each other.

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Yensen Quintero Valenzuela, 18
Bogota, Columbia

Yensen designed and produced the animated story, Overcoming Limits which focuses on the barriers of having a disability. After a rock climbing accident, the hero struggles to adjust to life after his leg is amputated. He realizes that his limitations persist until he decides to overcome them through positive thinking and physical therapy. “The animation was initially created for people with disabilities, but the message can uplift everyone since there is no greater rival than oneself.”

Lead Photo Courtesy of Ebin Lee.