Mental Roots is a multimedia project of mine founded in early 2020; a series of audio and visual content combining animation, journalism, poetry and music to educate on and empower black people's mental health.
The birth of this ongoing project came through my short film Mental Roots, releasing on 12th December 2021 through BBC Four's programme Animated Shorts: BBC Introducing Arts.
In February 2020, in the final year of my BA Animation degree, I was selected by Rural Media's New Creatives Midlands program for the exciting opportunity to help create, fund and distribute the Mental Roots film. In addition to Director, I was also Writer, Voiceover artist/poet and Colouring Animator.
Mental Roots places you in the shoes of a first-generation black Brit who embodies the common fears and stigmas of mental health issues among young black men.
At a local youth meeting, he starts to wonder: what led to his mental breaking point? Is he already beyond help? Coming from a context where many young people like him live as shells of themselves, are his true emotions worth trusting?
Mental Roots offers a challenging proposition: maybe we should see vulnerability as part of the cure, rather than the disease...
The film was made remotely, with the bulk of production taking place during Autumn 2020. Completed in March 2021, the film’s coming together was also largely inspired by the Mental Roots Podcast, which I launched in July 2020, as the worldwide discourse on racism and black experiences increased after the killing of George Floyd.
Since then, the podcast is now in its second season, filled with interviews with other black men sharing their own mental health experiences and various societal/cultural factors impacting them.
In my Masters in Visual Communication (MA), I created a sequel to the Mental Roots animation including excerpts of the podcast, which will be released sometime in 2022.
Film promo is on Instagram @animnathan_ and LinkedIn Nathan Addai.
Podcast Instagram: @mentalrootspodcast