Local Youth Groups put Mental Health in the Spotlight
Downpatrick and Slieve Croob District Electoral Areas (DEAs), in association with Spanner in the Works theatre company, joined forces with two local youth groups to develop and perform short plays that would raise awareness of issues surrounding mental health.
Ballykinlar Youth Club and Ballymote Education Authority worked closely with the theatre company’s writer and director, Patricia Downey to write their own individual plays. Through the development and writing stage, the young people were able to explore the effects of poor mental health and the impact this can have, not only on those affected but also their family and friends.
Conscious of the fact that these young people might not be willing to speak or seek help on an individual basis, the development and delivery of the drama project was devised to give them a creative method of expressing their views in an anonymous way.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson, Councillor Charlie Casey said, “It is important that we provide support mechanisms to young people suffering mental health issues to build resilience and eliminate the stigma associated with this issue. I commend the DEAs in responding so effectively and meaningfully to this issue at a grass roots level”.
Following eight weeks of writing and rehearsing the participants performed their dramas in the Saint Patrick Centre in front of their family and friends to rapturous applause. Speaking at the event Patricia Downey, Writer and Director at Spanner in the Works said, “I have been very impressed with the level of talent displayed in the performances and the creative way in which the messages were delivered by all our young people. I think it is important that we provide as many alternative ways for our young people to have a voice and address the rising problem of poor mental health.
“Performances such as these allow difficult conversations to begin and alleviate the stigma surrounding mental health and must be welcomed by all concerned. This is the second year I have worked on this initiative and the creativity and enthusiasm displayed by the young people never fails to surprise me. Well done to everyone involved in this project”.