2 October 2017

World Mental Health Day takes place on Tuesday 10th October. The world health organisation recognises this day every year as an opportunity to 'raise awareness of mental health issues around the world'. 

Here at LSA, the drama department have been spending some time exploring the field of mental health in creative ways. Mal Smith, tutor, said, "We were approached by Barry Hall, Head of Psychology, with a request to ‘do something for World Mental Health Day’ and this is our response. Y12 Performing Arts students worked quickly to find (and in one case write) real testimonies and create this filmed montage of true stories and key facts. We’ll also be following up on this with a theatre based performance piece at the end of the year.

It’s a great opportunity on two levels. Firstly it helps to promote awareness of an important issue for young people and those who work with them. Many adults who have experienced their own challenges with mental health will know how difficult it is to talk openly about it and the stigma attached to related concerns. For our students, with the many other pressures they have it can be a debilitating and lonely time.

In addition, for our Y12 Performing Arts students, it gives a real insight into the vocational nature of the jobbing actor. Whilst many dream of West End and big theatres, the truth of the working actor is very different. The commission, devising process and quick turnaround in this process have been a valuable reflection of the real life of the modern actor."

A collaboration of the dramatic monologues can be viewed here.  

This has proved to be an invaluable experience for students. Emma Fewings, said she learnt a lot about some illnesses she wasn't as aware of as others. She said "before reading ‘Will’s’ story' I never really knew what OCD really was. I thought it was just ‘keeping things neat and tidy’ as that’s what society sees it as. It has become trivialised and not seen as the complex disorder it is. Theatre and filmed performance offers us a way of finding an emotional connection with real people."

Kate Hughes also found the project eye opening, saying "mental health is unfortunately a largely taboo topic in our everyday lives. As a group we felt that it was important to address this issue. We felt that it was important for a younger audience to hear real stories so they could get a further understanding into the reality of mental health."

Ronan Canham, who wrote his own monologue, felt that this was an important thing to do. He said "it really can be difficult living with close friends’ mental health issues. I wanted my friend’s story to be heard as it is important for those indirectly involved to know what they can do to help."

Ella Revill explored Jade's story, she acknowledged that "it’s important to know that mental health issues can be triggered through many things – such as bullying. It’s vital we do more to identify mental illness within young people and that they are treated seriously. Theatre is an immediate and accessible way of exploring these issues.


To find out more, click here to visit the World Mental Health Day website.

Tags: Drama AS Level Sixth Form Year 12 EPA