The Film


Stella - The unflinching artist

Stella is a frank and feisty young woman of 25 who lives in Halifax. She’s a photographer, a mental health advocate and a student at Nova Scotia College of Art & Design. She started taking photographs when she was 19 years old, having been strongly influenced by the photojournalism work and career of her father. Initially, photography was a hobby and a way to get closer to her father. It quickly became Stella’s medium for expressing her struggles with mental illness, for helping others through teaching photography and for raising awareness.

At 16, it became obvious that Stella had a serious mental illness, but she wasn’t diagnosed with or properly medicated for Bipolar Disorder until she was 20. She has struggled with her illness over the last five years, but she’s also had a lot of success with her photography and her advocacy work. Stella currently has a show up at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia featuring photos she took at a children's psychiatric ward. The Canada Council for the Arts Bank has recently purchased prints from that show. Her work is stark, unflinching and poignant.

Stella steadfastly refuses to be defined by her illness alone. She works, plays roller derby, teaches, gives talks and attends art school. She is much more than her illness. She is a vibrant example of someone who lives a successful and fulfilling life.

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Alyshia - The quiet dancer

Alyshia is a shy 17 year old high school student living in the suburbs outside of Toronto. She knew something wasn’t right with her mental health, but she didn’t know what or how to deal with it.

Things started to get really bad a couple of years before. Alyshia struggled with depression and anxiety. Her symptoms escalated after a devastating bullying incident in grade ten. Alyshia began a serious cutting addiction and was struggling to function at school. In January of 2011, she was treated for suicidal thoughts.

Alyshia now attends individual therapy and family therapy. She’s graduated from high school. She still struggles and has issues with not wanting to be on medication and with being made fun of for her scars, but she’s learning to cope. She counts on her friends and family for support.

Alyshia started dancing when she was two and now dances competitively. Dancing has been a great source of comfort, healing and expression for Alyshia. She is currently working on her final solo performance as a competitive dancer. It’s a dance piece about mental illness, the darkness and the light.

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Asante - The soulful survivor

Asante is an out-going, compassionate 26 year old who grew up in the projects of Toronto’s Regent Park. The Jamaican-born rapper/writer and social worker has been haunted by depression and social anxiety since he was 14.

With his mother battling mental illness, the teen isolated himself in his bedroom playing video games. His mother attempted suicide and was in and out of hospital during his teen years. She worked two jobs but her paranoid delusions grew and she barely ate or slept. Her sons called 911 when she reached 85 pounds. They saved her life. She was hospitalized for six weeks and finally started to get the help she needed.

But Asante was struggling with his own mental health. He was lonely and ashamed of his issues, but didn’t seek out help for a long time. He was embarrassed so he kept it inside. By Grade 12, Haughton was Athlete of the Year, still depressed and now also feeling social anxiety and fear of crowds.

When he started studying psychology in university his depression got so bad that he finally got the help of a therapist. He learned to neutralize his depression through exercise, playing basketball, socializing, and constant monitoring of his self-talk to ensure it remained positive.

Today, he has his own apartment and a job he loves as a youth social worker. He writes, hangs out with friends or his mom, likes to shop for cool jackets and shoes, and on occasion performs at open mic at the Harlem Restaurant. He’s come a long way and sees recovery as a lifelong journey towards mental wellness.

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Justin Trudeau

Member of parliament for Papineau and eldest son of Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Justin has been a strong advocate for youth and mental health. Having experienced first-hand his own mother’s mental illness, he speaks passionately about creating a society free of stigma.

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Dr. Stan Kutcher

Dr. Kutcher is an internationally-renowned expert in the area of adolescent mental health and a national and international leader in mental health research, advocacy, training, policy, and services innovation working at the IWK and Dalhousie University. He currently holds the Sun Life Financial Chair in Adolescent Mental Health where he applies knowledge translation techniques to advance adolescent mental health promotion, education, research and training locally, nationally and internationally.

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Matt Wilcox

Alyshia’s close friend saw the changes and struggles she was facing in her teenage years and speaks to the need for friends to provide support and advocacy during tough times.

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Steve Jackson

Alyshia’s father Steve shares his insight as a loving parent that is thrust into a steep learning curve in dealing with a child who is struggling with mental health issues.

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Three Voices:
Discovery. Recovery. Hope. was a project of inspiration.

Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences embarked on this journey to create a documentary that would support our Adolescent Mental Health Literacy Program.

As a specialized mental health centre, we strive to provide excellent care to those with mental illness but we also want to change the world. That is a bold statement, but through our clinical care, advocacy, educational work and outreach we know that when you look through the eyes of someone who is suffering alone and in silence you can change the world.

We found an equally enthusiastic partner in Affinity Productions who very quickly understood the importance and breadth of this project. Their passion and talent was evident from the outset.

Three Voices chronicles the lives of three young people from diverse backgrounds who share the common link of mental illness. They present, in a frank and honest way, their experiences, struggles, fears, joys and hopes. Their stories touch the heart and serve as support and inspiration for all those young people that struggle with their illness. Our most sincere and heart-felt thanks for their participation and honest dialogue.

We hope this film speaks to the countless young people dealing with mental illness as well as their families, friends, teachers, coaches and anyone else that impact their lives in a meaningful way. We hope it inspires young people to ask for help, their families and friends to assist and support and for all society to be accepting and compassionate. If this film can in some small way help achieve those goals, just maybe we really can change the world.