From Babylonian blood-letting practices to wearable tech, new film on the evolution of depression perceptions and treatment

A new three-minute animated film exploring how perceptions of depression have evolved over time has been created to engage audiences in the topic. It covers our understanding and treatment of mental health issues and stigma throughout time.

The film covers Babylonian blood-letting practices that lasted until the 17th Century and beyond, all the way to the present day when various anti-stigma campaigns and mental health charities around the world have lead more people to speak about mental health and seek help. Looking to the future, the film explores how technological developments may help mental health through engaging mobile phones and wearable devices. 

The film, curated, produced and narrated by Alina Ivan, a researcher on the RADAR-CNS project at King’s College London, was inspired by the research she works on. RADAR-CNS focuses on the use of mobile phones and wearable technologies to track and prevent symptoms of depression (alongside epilepsy and MS).

Alina worked with animator Sophia Ppali and musician Wimperis on the story, creating a character to tell the tale.

Alina Ivan, says, "Misconceptions about depression have existed in the past, and we’ve come very far in understanding this condition, developing treatments and breaking down stigma. There is still a lot to be done, and we will continue to come up with creative solutions. In the film, we acknowledge some of these efforts and present research looking at ways of tracking and preventing symptoms using common wearables and mobile phones. 

She adds, "I hope that the video will bring perspective, inspire hope and start conversations about mental health and will provide a springboard for viewers to reflect on depression and start conversations about it through new exciting research like RADAR that engages widely used technologies, but also maybe through other disciplines such as art, history and even activism. After the lockdown eases we plan to showcase the film at community events, and in the meantime, we’ll host online screenings and panel discussions with experts and people with lived experiences in order to facilitate conversations.

Public engagement activities 

The film was due to part of the BRC in the Community week to celebrate the amazing collaborations between the NIHR Maudsley BRC and our community and engage more people with the importance of mental health research. This was postponed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Dr Sally Marlow, Public Engagement Fellow at King's College London, Curator of BRC in the Community, says, “This is an extraordinary animation spanning millennia, showing how humans have been searching for ways to deal with anxiety and depression as far back as we have records.  It’s a beautiful, meditative piece of work, with a key message – that human ingenuity and curiosity can bring relief from mental illness.  The BRC is proud to have supported Alina in this project.”

The film will be screened at the Science in the City Festival Malta b (EU Researcher’s Night) and an exhibition at Bush House Later in the year.

The film can be viewed above and has been translated into multiple languages. Please use #BRCintheCommunity to join the conversation.

Caption: A still from the short film – animated by Sophia Ppali.


Tags: Events - Patient and Carer Involvement and Engagement -

By NIHR Maudsley BRC at 19 May 2020, 10:45 AM


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