Out of the Shadows, a multimedia documentary that started as a student-led project and has grown into an ongoing project about global mental health, been recognized with several awards and nominations and is receiving widespread attention.

The project won the Online Journalism Award in the Pro-Am category, which honors the best professional-amateur collaboration in digital media. It also won a Digital Publishing Award for Best Digital Editorial Package, as well as a regional Edward R. Murrow Award in the category Small Online News Organization – Video News Series, International.The Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ) nominated the project for the Human Rights Reporting Award.

“Our approach has been to look not only at the challenge of mental illness around the world, but also highlight things that are working,” said Peter Klein, who co-led the project with Dave Rummel, Kathryn Gretsinger and Dr. Videsh Kapoor. “I think this has resonated with audiences, and offered some glimmer of hope in a story that would otherwise be quite bleak.”

 In April, the World Bank and World Health Organization borrowed the title of our project for the first global gathering of experts and policymakers to discuss the economic and political implications of global mental illness. The WHO/World Bank “Out of the Shadows” event was also the site of the premier of the virtual reality film “FRANCIS,” which was produced in partnership with the Global Reporting Centre, utilizing material from our multimedia documentary. Four hundred health and finance ministers from around the world experienced the VR project, which personalizes the experience of suffering from mental illness in a lower-resourced country. Since the screening, the film has been requested to be shown at major global gatherings of influencers, including the Kennedy Forum, the United Nations and the World Economic Forum.

“Out of the Shadows” grew out of a yearlong student-led project for The New York Times and was produced by a team of journalism students and staff at the International Reporting Program, which is part of the University of British Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism.

The Global Reporting Centre also developed the project into a documentary for Al Jazeera, which focuses on Dr. Vikram Patel and his efforts to develop community-based mental health care around the world. The Al Jazeera documentary was shortlisted for a One World Media Award, which is based in the UK and recognizes excellence in international media.

The GRC is now working with journalists in Nigeria to look at post-traumatic stress disorder amongst girls and young women who had been kidnapped by Boko Haram.

“Sadly, there is so little reporting on the topic of mental illness around the world,” said Klein. “This is a complex, rich story, and we plan to continue exploring it as part of the GRC’s mandate to highlight neglected global topics.”