Knowing that no feeling lasts forever. This is something that is so simple, but it often doesn’t feel like it. If things seem overwhelming and like they’ll be this way forever, it is a certain fact that they won’t be, so just remind yourself of this.
As a part of my series about “Mental Health Champions” helping to promote mental wellness, I had the pleasure to interview Ella Greenwood.
Ella Greenwood is a mental health advocate from London, England. She is a filmmaker, with her own production company Broken Flames Productions, which is focusing on a slate of mental health based projects, as announced by Yahoo Finance. Ella is an ambassador for leading teen mental health charity stem4, alongside the likes of World Cup rugby player Hallam Amos and BAFTA-winning actress Georgina Campbell, and at the age of only 19, she is their youngest ever ambassador. She was recently featured by Film Industry Network for Campaigning for better mental health representation in the media. Her upcoming films Faulty Roots, featured by Deadline, and Self-Charm, featured by Variety, are on the topic of mental health. She has been featured by Unpublished Magazine for ‘Revolutionizing the Conversation about Mental Health, Jejune Magazine for ‘Writing The Script On Mental Health’ and Darkus Magazine for ‘Redefining The Narrative For Mental Health’. She was also awarded Positive Female Role Model Of The Year at the 2020 Darkus Magazine Awards for her work on raising awareness for mental health in young people.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?
I grew up in London, England. I was lucky enough to get to travel to some amazing places during my childhood and I loved doing anything creative. I was home-schooled from the age of 13 and have been working as an actor since around that time.
You are currently leading a social impact organization that is helping to promote mental wellness. Can you tell us a bit about what you or your organization are trying to address?
My production company Broken Flames Productions is building a slate of mental health based projects. Our short film Faulty Roots, which is about teenage depression, is now being developed into a feature film and we’re also in post for the film Self-Charm, which focuses on self-harm. We’re currently in pre-production for the short film Smudged Smile, which will raise awareness of teenage depression.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
I struggled with my mental health as a young teen and so wanted to share my experiences with this, and to raise more awareness of it. When I first started struggling, I had no idea about what I was going through and just tried to ignore it for as long as possible. I didn’t know that there was help available and didn’t want to speak up about what I was going through. This is why I want to raise awareness of mental health, so that other young people who are going through similar things to me, know that there is support out there for them, as this would have made things so much easier for me, and I hope it will for them.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
I’ve been acting from a young age and have been rejected from so many roles and hated just waiting around for auditions so when I turned 18 I decided that I wanted to be more productive and have a bit more control over how I spent my time, which is why I started filmmaking. This led to me creating my first short film with my production company, which was about a teenage girl with depression.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
There have been so many amazing moments, but something really interesting that happened recently was that the manager of two of my favourite actors got in touch saying that he had heard about my work and that he thought everything I was doing was really great. He also said that the actors were really passionate about mental health too and that if there’s anything they could do to support my work that I should let him know. It was just so interesting that he had heard about what I was doing and wanted to help!
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
I’m an ambassador for the teen mental health charity stem4 and the work that they do is so inspiring and important. Their team works so hard to keep providing resources and information, and this helps me to better understand what is needed in my own work and how I can help others too.
According to Mental Health America’s report, over 44 million Americans have a mental health condition. Yet there’s still a stigma about mental illness. Can you share a few reasons you think this is so?
It’s almost a Catch 22 sort of situation. People don’t often speak out about their mental health if they’re struggling, and so it then seems to be the norm for it to be something that isn’t spoken about, which leads to more people remaining quiet with their struggles. With teenagers, it can be brushed aside as just a phase, or just being a part of growing up, even though there are so many young people who have committed suicide and who have a mental illness and need help. It needs to be taken so much seriously, and help is often only given when someone is really struggling, and there is no other option but to help them. This help can be too late though. Early intervention and awareness are what is needed.
In your experience, what should a) individuals b) society, and c) the government do to better support people suffering from mental illness?
Individuals should remind everyone around them that they are loved and supported. It’s such a simple thing,but the most important thing you can do is to just let someone know that you’re there for them. Society can speak up about mental health as a whole, and to avoid attaching any stigma to it. The government can increase the money spent on mental health services and can also introduce better awareness of it in schools and workplaces.
What are your 6 strategies you use to promote your own wellbeing and mental wellness? Can you please give a story or example for each?
- Making sure to spend time with friends and family. Even if I you have work to do, or it seems like too much is going on, prioritize spending time with those you love.
- Making sure to exercise. Even if you don’t feel like you have the energy to, making yourself stay active will have such a benefit.
- Listening to some good songs — if you’re sad and want to listen to a sad song then go ahead, and if you want to listen to a song from the 80s, a musical, a Disney movie, or any random thing, it can really help to take your mind off things.
- Have a nap! If it’s 10 minutes or a few hours, getting some rest can help make anything seem better, and what better way to literally switch off.
- Focus on the good things coming up. These could be little or big, they could be what you’re having for dinner, a new episode of something being released or just the fact that tomorrow is a new day. There is always something good that will come, even if you don’t know it.
- Knowing that no feeling lasts forever. This is something that is so simple, but it often doesn’t feel like it. If things seem overwhelming and like they’ll be this way forever, it is a certain fact that they won’t be, so just remind yourself of this.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to be a mental health champion?
There are some wonderful resources out there that help with your mental health, stem4 has some really great apps that can help with a range of things such as anxiety and self-harm, and the app Calm can also be really helpful. But then I also find that things can really help with my mental health that aren’t directly related to the topic. It could be watching one of my favorite Disney movies or reading a thriller book.
If you could tell other people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
It can be easy to focus on the negatives, and often harder to focus on being positive, so consider putting in that extra bit of effort to do something good and to do things with kindness. You never know who is struggling, or just who you could impact with your actions.
How can our readers follow you online?
My Instagram is @popsella, Twitter is @ella_greenwood, and you can keep up with my work on www.ellagreenwood.com.
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!