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Study shows power of theatre to encourage students to seek help for mental health

By 11th January 2021No Comments

A recent report on a theatre project born in Co Wexford has been shown to reduce mental health stigma and encourage young people to seek help when they’re struggling.

Created in 2015 by the Wexford Mental Health Association and the Wexford Adult Mental Health Services, the ‘Discover/Recover Theatre Project – A Face in the Crowd’ is based on true accounts of the experiences of people who have lived with mental health challenges. It explores stories of darkness, hope, humour, friendship, resilience and recovery.

Writer of the play and former mental health nurse Niall O’Muiri, said the project was created with a simple question posed to people who have lived with a mental health difficulty for much of their lives – ‘Do you have a story to tell, and in telling your story do you think someone else would benefit?’

“I wrote the play and have remained involved in its development with the belief and hope that it will open up a conversation between young people about mental health, mental illness and wellbeing, and encourages them to seek help,” said Niall.

“If this play encourages just one student to turn back and ask for help at a time in their lives when all seems lost and dark, it’ll all be worthwhile. If this play prevents just one teenage suicide, it will be a job well done.

“We are eternally grateful to all those story tellers who shared their stories and their life journey in such an open and honest way and showed us all that there is always a better brighter day ahead. All you have to do is ask,” he said.

The report, ‘The Discover/Recover Theatre Project: A Social Impact Study’ carried out by the Just Economics (2019) showed that the project improved mental health literacy, reduced stigma and supported help-seeking behaviours among young people.

The project reached 1032 young people across 10 secondary schools in 2019 alone with 92% of students wanting to see it rolled out across the country.

The findings of the report will be launched on Tuesday, 19th January at 11:00am by Minister for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler TD.

Register for the event here https://launch-discoverrecover.eventbrite.ie