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In 2010, a collection of young people with experiences of psychosis worked with us to raise awareness of psychosis and increase referrals to an NHS early intervention unit.

Cornwall and Isles of Scilly NHS Foundation Trust wanted to increase awareness of psychosis, directing the public to its early intervention unit as a way of helping young people struggling with the condition as soon as possible.

Authentic experience is the most compelling, so to  help people understand what the early stages of psychosis feel like, we built a campaign on firsthand experience.

In collaboration with four young people, we developed a film campaign inspired by and drawing on their authentic experiences of psychosis. Over 12 days we planned and created a campaign that would be visually arresting, with a clear call-to-action and ‘viral’ potential.

Through acting, physical performance, underwater dance, writing and photography we honed in on the idea that being underwater is an arresting metaphor for the reality shift that people with psychosis experience. So, we found ourselves submerged at the bottom of a dive pit!

The final film had a cinematic premiere and was supported by a range of new online & offline materials.

71% Increase in Referrals

In the seven months following the campaign, Cornwall and Isles of Scilly NHS Foundation Trust Early Intervention Team experienced a 71% uplift in referrals (on the previous year) which helped save NHS costs on treatment intensity and helped people recover sooner.

A Life-Changing Experience

Our young producers were supported through the process to make sense of their personal experiences in a collaborative, non-stigmatising environment. The project achieved a voluntary attendance rate of 94% compared to the average 40% for projects of this nature. Two of the four young producers re-entered work or volunteering following the project which they would not have been able to do prior to working with us.

A Valuable Resource

Since its premiere and release the NHS has used the campaign as a valuable tool at workshops, staff training and presentations to continue to raise the profile of the work it does. The original video has also been published across platforms in the Netherlands.

“ I think that effervescent are a fantastic company. Bringing other professionals together and making this happen has been a real feat. I am so pleased this has been achieved and I am sure it’ll help towards our common goal of supporting individuals to achieve their potential by getting the right support as early as possible. ”

Angela Hawke, Team Leader, Early Intervention Psychosis Team Cornwall