Post by Amy Mellows.
Hey everyone, I’m Amy and I’ve spent the last few months developing the digital content for our brand new Theatre of The Mind outreach programme for schools!
Doorstep Arts coordinate a year-round programme of work called Open Doors, which builds long-term relationships with schools to support creative, cultural, PSHE and wellbeing enrichment. Our Theatre of The Mind workshops use active learning to support areas of the PSHE curriculum, and provide a safe, creative space for students to develop their reflective capacity and emotional literacy.
I’m now working with teachers to get their KS2 & KS3 PSHE students onto the programme, and it’s evident that young people need this safe space to focus on their mental health and wellbeing more than ever before. After a year of a pandemic and being isolated in lockdowns, many of us have experienced a big impact on our wellbeing and mental health. For many young people, this crisis has come at a time in their teenage lives that is already really difficult to navigate, and has therefore provided additional challenges for their mental health, wellbeing and happiness.
This period of transition- where a young person starts to really understand who they are, where they begin navigating their relationships with themselves, friends, family and others around them- is key to their personal and social development, and their future. What could be more challenging than a year of isolation, intense anxieties, boredom and grief, that the pandemic added on top of all of the usual struggles for young people at home, in their social lives and at school? Even now we are starting to see society attempt to return to some sense of ‘normality’. However, is calling our exhaustion, anxieties and grief after this past year ‘burnout’ – before brushing it off to try and be as productive as we used to be- really going to work? Young people in particular need the space to reflect upon and unpack the enormous impact of this pandemic, an aftermath that we are only really starting to understand in regard to longer-term mental health, wellbeing and emotional effects.
If the importance of arts practices in schools, communities and widely in all of our lives wasn’t already clear to some people, it certainly has to be now. Drama and creative practices provide the tools for young people to explore, understand and develop key emotional and reflective skills, in a safe, fun and embodied way. Forum theatre techniques allow young people to rehearse real life situations, and give them the space and tools to reflect upon and unpack the interactions and complex situations that we find ourselves in on a daily basis.
The Theatre of The Mind programme has been developed over the past 5 years and is led by experienced visiting specialists. It brings together arts practice and wellbeing education to support early intervention, by increasing knowledge and understanding of mental health and wellbeing in young people. It reduces stigma and improves awareness of self-resilience and coping strategies, using drama as a tool for engaging students and rehearsing skills. It also cultivates a safe learning environment for participants to understand and connect with their emotions through drama and creative practice.
The programme incorporates the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ in each session, and covers key areas of the KS3 PSHE curriculum. It utilises Augusto Boal’s Forum and Image Theatre techniques, combined with dialogic theatre practice, to open up conversations with young people about the things that matter to and affect them, in a meaningful, embodied and creative way.
Theatre of The Mind provides students with a toolkit of mental health coping mechanisms that they can use during transitions in the future, and is available as a 3-session Foundation Course or a 6-session Full Course. These hour-long sessions can be split over 3 or 6 weeks (or over 1-3 days) and can be booked flexibly around a school’s timetable. The package also includes an online bank of resources for students and teachers to use afterwards, that signpost to further wellbeing support, and an interactive digital lesson plan that takes place before the workshops begin.
If you’re a young person who doesn’t currently have access to Theatre of The Mind, don’t forget that you can always find help, support and resources with the following organisations:
If you need immediate help, please call emergency services on 999 or The Samaritans on 116 123.
Youth Arts & Health Trust provide arts therapy sessions (online or face to face) for children and young people up to 25 who are experiencing anxiety and/or depression. They often have funded or part-funded sessions available for those on lower incomes.
Free helpline or web chat from 5pm- midnight.
Childline provide games, videos, a calm zone , art boxes , letter builders, mood journals , coping kits, 1-2-1 counsellor chats , an info & advice database, and message boards.
Young Minds can help you find help, and provide resources on gender, sexuality, racism, gaming & mental health, drugs & alcohol and more.
Mind provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. They campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
Papyrus offer support and help for anyone under 35 thinking of suicide, or anyone worried about anyone at risk.
Young Devon support young people across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay. They can help with life skills, accommodation, wellbeing and more.
A free phonecall/ email/ write to service, Whatever you’re going through, a Samaritan will face it with you. They’re here 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Help for gender-diverse children, young people and their families.
Info, help and advice on a range of digital/internet/social media topics.
Youth Access Resource Hub, information for young people on where to get support and how to get involved in campaigns during the coronavirus outbreak.
Are you looking for someone to talk to about how you’re feeling? Want to read up on a particular mental health issue such as depression or anxiety? Struggling to understand bills and worried about falling into debt? Their information and advice pages hopefully have what you need. If not, they’ll show you who can.
They offer a wide range of information, advice, counselling and support services to young people. 14-16 Union Street, Derry’s Cross, Plymouth, Devon, PL1 2SR.
Essential support for under 25s.
A range of apps recommended by the NHS to help with your physical and mental health / wellbeing.
Want something to listen to instead? Try BBC Sounds’ Wellbeing series.