- All who are interested in mental health issues are invited to the free performance of Actually It’s Me at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst on Friday 26 May
People in the Bathurst region are invited to a free performance at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst which explores the challenges the actors’ faced in life and the mental health system, and what they have found to be helpful for recovery.
The production of Actually It’s Me is by Listening to Voices Theatre, an award-winning unique project directed by one of Australia’s most experienced community development artists, Ms Catherine Simmonds, OAM.
Listening to Voices is a community-based project offering performances, training, workshops and resources that aim to foreground lived experience of mental health issues, address stigma, educate, and inspire critical reflection and hopeful practice.
Associate Head of the Charles Sturt School of Allied Health, Exercise and Sport Sciences Dr Tracey Parnell said throughout 2019 and 2020 Charles Sturt University and the ‘Listening to Voices’ project worked together to co-design and co-produce a sustainable, mental health education resource.
The outcome of the collaboration was a free-to-access, online learning resource that respectfully and artistically presents the lived experiences of four people who have been consumers of the Australian mental health system.
Dr Parnell said through performance, the actors share their own experiences of the challenges they faced in life and in the mental health system, and what they have found to be helpful for recovery.
“The co-production of the resource involved a paradigm shift towards justice and an unambiguous focus on the rights of all people to be included in society through meaningful participation, grounded in their chosen identity,” she said.
“As a health professional and an educator, I believe the importance and power of this resource lies in its collaborative and respectful development, its authenticity, and most importantly its focus on a shift in power.”
Dr Parnell said the shift rightly positioned people with lived experience as experts and foregrounded lived experience as an essential strategy to educate, advocate, and to bring about change in societal attitudes.
“This shift is pivotal to the co-design of mental health services that foreground a justice of inclusion, humanity and kindness,” she said.
“The team’s hope is that use of this resource will contribute to the development of professionals who are collaborative, strengths-based and person-centred, and who have capacity and willingness to positively engage in contemporary, and important conversations about mental health.”
Director of Charles Sturt External Engagement (Bathurst and Orange) Ms Julia Andrews said, “Actually It’s Me is an incredibly powerful performance and educational tool for students and health professionals, focussing on empathy and understanding of the lived experience.
“The impact of the project has also been life-changing for the cast of four people who were essential contributors to the design and development of the resource, and people who are not students or health professionals will find it a moving a thought-promoting performance.”
The free performance will take place at the Ponton Theatre (Building 1434) at Charles Sturt University, Panorama Ave, Bathurst, on Friday 26 May from 6pm to 7pm, and will be followed by a Q&A session. Please register to attend.
The audience will have a chance to hear how this work is inspiring changes in the response to mental health and psychological distress through education.
The evening is supported by Charles Sturt University, Three Rivers Department of Rural Health and Gateway Health. For more details visit listeningtovoices.org.au
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