Imperial College London

Film about young people’s mental health and connection premieres at BFI


People stand either side of the Nexus film poster

Nexus co-producers (Chris Godwin, Dr Lindsay Dewa, Pelumi, Dylan, Simi, Aliyyah) stand by the film poster

Nexus is a short film about the impact of COVID-19 on young people's mental health, eating-related coping strategies, and the power of connection.

The film, which premiered on 7 December at the British Film Institute (BFI), is based on research by Imperial College London’s Dr Lindsay Dewa, an Advanced Research Fellow in mental health at the Institute of Global Health Innovation, and is a collaboration between West London NHS Trust, Imperial College London and Inner Eye Productions.

It is so important to me that I work with people who have the same experience that the research is about Dr Lindsay Dewa Advanced Research Fellow in Mental Health, Imperial College London

Dr Dewa’s research focuses on preventing and detecting youth mental health deterioration. During the pandemic, Dr Dewa was working on the importance of social connection among young people to support mental health. She examined the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the mental health and coping strategies of young people, and the film was co-produced with young people who have experience of mental health difficulties.

Dr Dewa said: “It is so important to me that I work with people with the same experience that the research is about – so I continued this way of working in making this film – they were involved in all stages to develop the film.”

Inner Eye Productions approached Dr Dewa in December 2020 to make a film based on her research. With our collaborators at the West London NHS Trust, we then selected young people with lived experience of the pandemic, some with experience of mental health difficulties, to be part of the project. From concept and idea generation, to filming, editing, completing the film, young people have been at the heart of this exciting and important project. This co-production process is innovative, engaging and has ensured the young people’s voice is central to the film. They decided that the central character, whose disordered eating is a response to the lockdown, should be a young man, and to have a diverse cast.

The screening of the 20-minute film drama was followed by a Q&A with Director, Chris Godwin, Inner Eye Productions, Dr Lindsay Dewa, West London NHS Trust’s Research Director, the actors – and the four inspiring young people who were the co-producers. Chairing the discussion was Patrick Russel, of the  BFI National Archive. The BFI has decided to archive the film, due to its social significance, meaning people will be watching it in years to come to better understand the pandemic.

During the Q&A, co-producer Aliyyah talked about how she felt her experience as a young person during lockdown was represented in the film. One of the co-producers, Dylan, who works for an anti-poverty charity, talked about how the impacts of digital exclusion which are central to the film, felt strongly by many during COVID-19, is highly relevant in the current cost of living crisis. When asked how best to share the film more widely, Dr Dewa said: “Ask the young people, they know best!”

Two rows of people look at the camera
The Nexus team and actors in the screening room at BFI

With thanks to the Burdett Trust for Nursing and West London NHS Trust for project funding. 

Watch the trailer of Nexus:

Nexus trailer - the film explores the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on young people's mental health, eating related coping strategies and connections.


Victoria Murphy

Victoria Murphy
Institute of Global Health Innovation

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Mental-health, Societal-engagement
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