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We Power On For Men's Mental Health | Full Documentary | DocuQuests

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“Listening to other people’s stories has helped me to understand my own emotions better
and has given me the courage to have deeper conversations.”

Alex Jordan Connor, Filmmaker

In 2023, during my A-levels, I hit a rough patch with my mental health. I felt lost about the direction my life was taking and so I made a big decision—to leave and focus on my passion for filmmaking. This led me to create a documentary on male mental health.
 

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One evening, scrolling through Instagram, I stumbled upon Chris Waller and We Power On—a men’s mental health walk and talk group. His energy and the group’s locality made me think, Chris would be a great person to learn from. I reached out, attended the group and after chatting and getting to know the people and their stories, I decided to centre the documentary on We Power On.

Becoming an active member of We Power On was a great experience. Over the last five months, I have seen the positive impact the group has on people who make the choice to attend, and I have personally experienced the benefits of being part of the supportive community. Listening to other people’s stories has helped me to understand my own emotions better and has given me the courage to have deeper conversations.

The documentary aims to showcase the power of talking about mental health struggles and the importance of seeking support. Through Chris, Dan, and Pete’s stories, I wanted to highlight how their lives had improved by beginning to talk about what they were going through. The film also shows the importance of We Power On being a peer-to-peer support group where listening plays a key role in the group’s foundation.

Interviews were the major pieces to film –  I chose people who felt comfortable with being a lead role and that I had developed a good connection with since the start of the year. The challenge was condensing three hours of interviews into a 13-minute film. The most impactful story in the documentary came from Dan’s interview, in his first appearance he speaks about how he has spent many nights wishing he would go to sleep and not wake up and in his last appearance he speaks about how he is now content with having a coffee and watching the world go by. 

I hope the documentary will positively impact viewers, encouraging them to speak up about their struggles and listen to others. If one person seeks support because of it, then it’s all been worth it.

Through this journey, I’ve learnt about the power of supportive communities in facing mental health difficulties. When I am having a difficult time nowadays, I go out for a walk, which is a simple act, and I feel a lot better. The benefits I’ve seen from a walk and talk group can be simplified into six categories: Nature (being close to the outside world), Safety (acceptance and understanding), Community (group feeling of connection), Striving (working towards a common goal), Seperation (escaping stress and unpleasant environments) and Yourself (no requirement to conform, no expectations, no judgement).

I would like to continue to explore this topic in the future and to continue to work with powerful groups in the community as I think it is important to create supportive networks in your local area. 

If I had to advise a young filmmaker looking to start a project on an important and challenging social or health issue, I would say to start a conversation with a key person in that area. It can be scary to enter a world that you feel you have little knowledge of but if you are open and honest you will be surprised with how supportive people can be to help you achieve your vision! Be willing to learn and to listen.

BLOG: WE POWER ON FOR MEN’S MENTAL HEALTH

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