1 November 2022

Mental health lessons learned with students set for much-anticipated Dramatic Minds Festival

| Shri Gayathirie Rajen
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The Dramatic Minds Festival will be held at Temora Town Hall on Thursday, 3 November. Photo: Supplied.

Students from across the region are set for the 2022 Dramatic Minds Festival, where they will apply their creativity to mental health issues.

They have spent many hours over several months researching and preparing presentations including drama, dance, artworks and short films, and explore mental health, alcohol and other drug problems from students’ perspective.

The event will be held at Temora Town Hall on Thursday, 3 November, from 10:30 am.

The nine schools involved are Ardlethan Central, Ariah Park Central, Coolamon Central, West Wyalong High, Temora High, Murrumburrah High, Junee High, Kooringal High and Wagga Wagga Christian College.

The festival was started in Wagga Wagga in 2009 with the aim to increase young people’s knowledge of mental health issues and change their attitude towards those affected.

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The Temora Community Drug Action Team is a major sponsor of this year’s event.

Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD) School Link clinical leader John Dean said the support from the action team had enabled the inclusion of a visiting professional performance.

“We are really pleased to include a performance of The RAIN MAKER as part of this year’s festival,” Mr Dean said.

“This production is presented by Centre Stage Scripts. It’s set in a football club and depicts the struggles of two young players and their coach and addresses topics such as alcohol misuse and mental health issues in regional Australia.”

Mr Dean has been working with children from across the MLHD to produce creative expressions of mental wellbeing and mental illness-related problems.

He said the festival continued to be an excellent platform for the students to better understand mental health problems and communicate them to their peers, teachers and the wider communities.

“Young people have found the period of the pandemic a particular challenge, and we’ve seen increased numbers seeking help,” he said.

”The entries submitted demonstrate that students continue to find the festival a great way for them to express themselves.”

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Mr Dean said the contribution of teachers from each of the participating schools continued to be the primary driver behind the festival’s success.

“They have contributed long hours and advice in helping students develop their presentations,” he said.

While competition is not the primary focus, the entries will be judged and prizes will be awarded for each category, with the perpetual trophy going to the contribution judged the best overall presentation.

Judges will be looking at the artistic merit of the presentation, the standard of the comment on mental health, and the impact from the point of view of someone who has had a lived experience of mental illness.

The festival is open to the public and will begin at 10:30 am with the performance of The RAIN MAKER and a Q and A session with the performers.

School entries will start at 11:30 am and the festival will be live-streamed.

If you are struggling with your mental health or excessive use of drugs or alcohol, or someone you know is, speak with your GP or phone the MLHD Accessline on 1800 800 944 to arrange support. If a life is in danger, call triple zero or head straight to your nearest emergency department.

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