Acting for the Future – Using the Arts to Promote Positive Mental Health and Suicide Prevention for Travellers

Using creative processes to promote positive mental health and suicide prevention with young people and adults from the Traveller and Roma communities.

Adam Traynor performing in Testimonies

Acting for the Future – Using the Arts to Promote Positive Mental Health and Suicide Prevention for Travellers uses creative processes to promote positive mental health and suicide prevention with young people and adults from the Traveller and Roma communities. Acting for the Future will be implemented by Smashing Times and the Samaritans, working in partnership with four Traveller and Roma support groups: Tallaght Travellers Community Development Project, TravAct, Kildare Traveller Action and Musicantia.

Acting for the Future uses participative theatre workshops, professional performances and post-show panel discussions with counsellors and clinical psychologists to promote active healthy lifestyles, positive mental health and suicide prevention. The project uses creative processes to actively engage young people and adults from the Traveller and Roma community in the promotion of positive mental health and suicide prevention, and to increase awareness of and access to mental health services in Ireland for members of the Traveller and Roma Communities.

Smashing Times and the Samaritans, along with our four partners, are using the Acting for the Future structure to develop a targeted programme for young people and adults within the Traveller and Roma communities. A range of original culturally appropriate mental health education materials are being developed with direct input from members of the Traveller and Roma community. The materials to be developed are a project information leaflet, two mental health and suicide prevention leaflets, a drama workshop model, a Traveller inspired theatre performance and a final report and evaluation. Members of the Traveller community play a direct role in designing the project materials as they work in partnership with Smashing Times and the Samaritans. The materials and activities are then rolled out with members of the Traveller and Roma Community and consist of 10 workshops, 10 performances, 10 post-show panel discussions, a social media and traditional PR campaign and four radio campaigns, all directly involving Travellers and Roma and raising awareness of how to promote positive mental health and suicide prevention and how to access mainstream mental health services.

The project includes the development of a new performance piece written and devised from evidence-based research on the Traveller and Roma communities, their history and culture and the contemporary issues facing young people and adults regarding positive mental health and suicide prevention. Ten interviews are conducted with members of the Traveller and Roma community to inform the development of the new piece.

In keeping with best practice, a support structure is in place for all project activities. A representative from Smashing Times meets with each group prior to the workshop, performance or post-show panel discussion taking place to discuss elements of the project and related resource material. A key aspect of this support structure is the presence of qualified psychotherapists and members of the Samaritans at all activities. This structure provides participants with a safe space to explore the issues raised. An information pack including two leaflets with information on 5 ways to well-being and building resilienceare distributed at each event, which includes a list of support agencies and resource materials for follow-up work as well as pre and post evaluation forms. 

The project promotes an intercultural approach to delivery of health care support services in an equal, accessible and effective way, acknowledging and valuing the diversity of all service users. A total of 1,050 participants take part directly in project activities and a total of 203,500 are reached indirectly making an overall reach of 204,550.

Young people and adults from the Traveller community have access to a programme that promotes positive mental health and suicide prevention and access to a range of culturally appropriate mental health educational materials including a project information leaflet, two mental health and suicide prevention leaflets, a drama workshop model, a theatre performance and a final report and evaluation, all designed in collaboration with members of the Traveller and Roma community.

Feedback for Acting for the Future:

This work is excellent… we don’t do enough emotional training and that is why drama is so important, particularly for young people in schools.’ – Secondary School Principal, CBS, Westland Row

I always knew promotion of metal health was important but now I believe that it should be promoted even more and more workshops and performances like this should be available for everyone.’ – Second Level Student

We believe that drama is an extremely effective way of giving teenagers permission to ask some very real questions on the ever expanding issues that surround suicide and self harm… The monologues are extremely effective in expressing the multitude of feelings experienced by those bereaved by suicide and of those with suicidal thoughts. It is very important that they continue to run in schools, youth clubs and theatres around the country.’ – The Samaritans on Acting for the Future

The overall feedback was that Smashing Times was the most positively evaluated of all events, deeming it an example of best practice!’ – Barbara Duffy, HSE, Arklow Mental Health Week, 28 February 2014

‘The work Smashing Times are doing is so important. We need to hear more of these stories.’ – Laura Brady, audience member

For further information please contact Smashing Times on info@smashingtimes.ie or call us at +353 (0)1 865 6613

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