AN AWARD-WINNING drama workshop, aimed at raising the profile of self-harm and eating disorders amongst the Year Nine (13-14 year old age) group in Salford, has recently completed its second successful tour of the city’s schools.
A Spiralling Mind – funded by NHS Salford Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) – has been performed to nearly 4,500 students across the city and focuses on the lives of two teenagers and how their coping methods for dealing with stress impacts on their lives, leading to self-harm and eating disorders.
The theatre-piece is followed by an interactive workshop which discusses the themes developed and signposts participants to available support services.
Now, with the conclusion of the well-received latest tour, the initiative has received the prestigious Association of Healthcare Communications and Marketing (AHCM) award for Best Engagement.
Dr Tom Tasker, Chair of Salford CCG, said: “In the last few years, mental health charities have indicated that mental health issues amongst young people have been increasing: particularly in the two areas we feature; self-harm and eating disorders.
“Our approach has been to stimulate conversation about these topics in a safe, comfortable environment and raise awareness and highlight the support services available.
“The message is clear: young people’s mental health and wellbeing is incredibly important and it is vital that we take steps to improve young people's emotional wellbeing by talking about the issue.”
The project was delivered by Odd Arts UK (pictured above) and developed in partnership by practitioners and service users at 42nd Street, Manchester-based young people’s emotional wellbeing support service.
The sessions also explore stress, anxiety, body image and suicidal feelings, and all 20 places of learning that have hosted a performance receive a further follow-up lesson plan to continue the discussions.
Speaking about A Spiralling Mind, Salford Vice Principal, Jacqui House, said: “I was impressed because the students engaged in the workshop and responded well.
“It provoked a lot of thought and discussion throughout and afterwards. The lesson plan provided will be a great follow-up for some smaller group work.”
Salford Academy pupil, Marta Westfa, added: “The play was brilliant; the workshop was a great way of getting the message across and showed us not be afraid to tell someone if you need help.”
On delivering the AHCM award at a ceremony last month, judges observed that A Spiralling Mind: “Was an impressive campaign, good use of the theatre company and an innovative way to engage with young people on a difficult subject.”
NHS Salford CCG is currently processing evaluation with a view to running a similar initiative in the near future.