Mental Health in Film

Do Stories have the Power to Invoke Empathy and Inspire Change?



Film Screening and Presentation by Suraya Raja, award-winning Animation Director, and graduate of the National Film & Television School.


Suraya's films tell stories of the absurdity of human behaviour, the internal, and the tragicomic, sometimes influenced by her background working in psychology, homelessness and offending services, or by day-to-day observations of human behaviour. She mixes animation techniques with live action, her curiosity often leading to new and playful ideas.



About the Film


'Don't Think of a Pink Elephant' enters the world of a teenage girl fighting daily against intrusive thoughts. Layla is terrified of her potential to do harm, until challenged to face her darkest fears.

Her film premiered at Leicester Square Picture House and has since been showcased at over 100 international festivals (including 6 BAFTA and 4 Oscar accredited festivals). It has picked up fourteen awards for Best Animation or Best Director, and received several more nominations. It was featured as part of the exhibition, 'Herself: Girlhood in Stop-Motion Film' at the Atkinson Gallery, Santa Barbara. The exhibit ran for three months and included animation classes for girls, and facilitated discussions around mental health and #MeToo.




















About the Presentation


Suraya developed this after she was invited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists to run a half-hour presentation. It includes a screening of the short film, 'Don't Think of a Pink Elephant'. Suraya talks about her inspirations for making the film, and the importance of having the audience relate to the character's experience of OCD. She explains how the characters were developed, the depiction of mental illness, and the techniques she used to get the audience to really experience the feeling of the intrusive thoughts. She covers the fascinating creative process of stop motion animation, and the unexpected impacts the film has had!


How can we make stories of mental health relatable to the average viewer? How can we promote the possibility of hope, whilst staying true to the illness? And what impact does the representation of mental health in entertainment have?

Guest Speaker at


  • Royal College of Psychiatrists 17th Annual Meeting of Trainees, New Consultants, Nurses and Allied Health Professionals Committee (TNC-NAHP) of the Faculty of Liaison Psychiatry

  • The Ortus, Maudsley Hospital. Training day for psychiatry trainees ST4-6






'Truly inspirational, it sensitively portrays a teenager’s daily battles with distressing, obsessive thoughts. Deeply engaging, it filled the delegates with hope, normalised mental illness and depicted particular nuances of obsessive compulsive disorder accurately. Fascinating. Full of compassion and appropriate sense of humour'


Dr A Shetty - Consultant Liaison Psychiatrist, Chair, TNC-NAHP


'The power and simplicity of the film leaves you spellbound. It’s a ‘complete’ film describing complex mental disorder OCD and its management. The talk was a great insight into the details of the making'


Dr Sanjukta Das


'A sensitive and nuanced piece of work, as well as being entertaining and gripping'


Brahms Robinson - National Programme Lead for Liaison Psychiatry, Public Health Wales


'I had a lot of issues with intrusive thoughts a couple of years ago, and I'd never seen a film narrative try and tackle the subject. You did a really amazing job. I just want to thank you for making this film!'

MA, Student, diagnosed with OCD

'The most accurate depiction of intrusive thoughts I have seen'

LW, Documentary maker, diagnosed with OCD

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© 2020 Suraya Raja