Why it is important to design Theatre programmes that enhance employees’ mental wellbeing?
Mental health and wellness is a sector that is going to attract more attention in the coming years as stress and depression increase. Most people will seek help as awareness increases. Stress levels are rising among employed Indians owing to growing uncertainty in jobs in a highly disruptive environment as well as increasing anxiety in personal lives, studies have revealed.
Increasing stress has, in turn, led to a surge in the number of people who are suffering from depression and are at high risk of suicide. Employers, therefore, face an increasing challenge of dealing with workers who are not only personally depressed but may also adversely impact the productivity of their organizations.
Ashutosh Panday, Cofounder, Elate Wellbeing, said: “The key problems faced by professionals include poor health, work-life balance, relationships, drop in job performance and alcoholism/smoking. Freshers are not able to sleep well and have immense stress. Employees who are married and have children struggle with work-life balance. All this takes a toll on their body and mind, leading to decreased performance at work.”
WeMove Theatre,Bangalore is
an organization that exists to support people in recovery from poor mental health. We provide creative workshops and theatre interventions that focus on mental well-being, teaching people coping strategies and developing a greater understanding of their own mind, where to get support and how to support others.
Why use theatre?
Unlike HIV/AIDS, mental illness has not acquired the desired attention as far as creating awareness is concerned. Additionally, the conventional methods of using pamphlets, posters or electronic media may have limited effect on the rural population due to their low literacy levels. People with low literacy can be given health-related information by watching and listening, rather than by reading alone. Theatre, especially folk theatre, street theatre, or forum theatre are popular means of conveying educational information in such rural communities.
Theatre and its application in mental health
Theatre as an educational tool is used:
As a creative method of public education
To challenges stereotypes, stigma and misconceptions
To personalize issues for audiences due to its “live” nature
As a feel of “direct contact” that film and other education forms lack
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can be an effective approach to educate illiterate people through listening and watching.
Many interventions using theatre may have been tried to improve awareness, but they have not been evaluated. In fact, many movies on mental health issues have been successfully made to not only to educate the audience but to also entertain. Research shows that using drama to raise awareness of a particular social or health issue can result in a range of impacts on audience members of all ages including: increased knowledge of the topic presented, positive attitudinal changes towards people with the specific conditions addressed (including mental health problems), and improvements in intended future behavior relating to health behaviors or help seeking. There is also some evidence which suggests that experiencing theatrical performances live achieves greater affective responses than video recordings of the same performance. Furthermore, young people involved in the development and performance of issues-based community theatre can experience a range of positive mental health impacts stemming from their participation such as improved self-esteem, confidence and improved capacity for self-expression.