"What I love most about what I do is the people I get to meet."
John Richardson, former service user
John Richardson firmly believes he owes his life to the NHS and the dedicated mental health professionals who helped him through his hardest days.
A professional film maker who specialises in working with the NHS, here, in his own words, is John’s story:
What’s your NHS story?
Like most people, the NHS was there when I was born, but I feel like they also helped me to be 'reborn'. Words fail here, but I was Sectioned a few times, went through psychosis, survived a suicide attempt and all the rest that comes with it. The Early Intervention in Psychosis service helped me through all that - despite me being pretty hesitant to allow them to, at first. They brought out the best in me and gave me the strength to believe in myself and my life - all through listening to me and offering me their kindness. I wouldn't be the person I am today without them.
How did you get into filmmaking?
I watched a lot of films in my teenage years and thought "I can do that".
They had a profound resonance with me in the way they could communicate ideas like no other medium could. The cultural shockwaves that films can produce and the utility they can serve beyond entertainment really fascinates me. I love being able to make people feel something or generate their own ideas from watching something I've made.
What’s been your best NHS mental health film project to date?
People say that when you make a film it is like your child, so I couldn't choose a favourite.
What do you most love about your job?
What I love most about what I do is the people I get to meet. Every single person I work with or interview knows something that I don't. That means I'm constantly being exposed to new ideas and different ways of thinking, which is wonderful nourishment to my curious mind.
What do you think makes the NHS so special?
This is an easy one for me. It is the people. The people who go the extra mile and see people as more than their problems. Who see their job as much more than a career. That ring me when they are meant to be enjoying their weekend or spend their evenings having challenging discussions on social media. The ones who are open and transparent. Who turn negatives into positives. Who appreciate the privileged positions they are in, when they work with someone in need. Those are the people that embody the NHS and the NHS would be nothing without them.
What do you think the next 70 years hold for the NHS?
The NHS always has and always will lay the foundation for the society it serves. When it saves a life or changes one, we all benefit from that. I'm sure there will be more scientific breakthroughs and medical miracles but in regards to mental health, it's the advancements in attitude and understanding that excite me.