3 November 2023

Students challenged to think up creative ways to help break down mental health stigma

| Jarryd Rowley
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montage of a girl's face in segments

The Dramatic Minds Festival returns this Thursday as students from across the region look to help break the stigma attached to mental health. Photo: Dramatic Minds Festival.

Students from schools across the Riverina will take part in the Murrumbidgee Local Health District’s (MLHD) Dramatic Minds Festival to break the stigma about mental health.

The festival involves the students submitting drama, short films, dance and artworks to express their own perspectives on subjects such as mental health and alcohol and drug addictions.

Now in its 14th year, the event has made the leap from a face-to-face meeting to a digital space, with students making their presentations online.

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According to MLHD, the online move allows more schools to take part in the event.

Clinical leader for MLHD’s School Link, John Dean, has been working with students to help produce their creative pieces.

“The Dramatic Minds Festival started in the region in 2009 and continues to be an excellent way for students to better understand mental health problems and then communicate this to their peers, teachers and local communities,” Mr Dean said.

“The last few years have been particularly challenging times for young people, and we see increased numbers seeking help. The entries submitted already demonstrate that students continue to find the festival a great way for them to express these challenges.”

The schools participating in this year’s festival are: Ardlethan Central, Ariah Park Central, Narrandera High, West Wyalong High, Temora High, Murrumburrah High, Deniliquin High, Kooringal High and Wagga Wagga Christian College.

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While competition is not the primary focus, the entries will be judged and prizes will be awarded. Judges will consider 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 contribution of teachers from each of the participating schools continues to be the primary driver behind the success of the Dramatic Minds Festival,” Mr Dean said.

”They have contributed long hours and advice in helping students develop their presentations.”

A livestream link will be available on MLHD’s Facebook page from 10 am on Thursday (2 November).

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