Suitcase was an ambitious bid to tackle the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental health issues in young people, aimed at 11-14 year olds.
The play was an innovative and creative approach for young people to discuss their feelings and emotions via a gripping one woman show written and performed by renowned Leeds-based poet and writer Michelle Scally Clarke, performed around secondary schools in Leeds in Spring 2016. This was followed by a 35-minute Q & A workshop, inviting those who watched the show to engage and tackle some of the issues raised, exemplifying the use of the arts as a tool for emotional literacy and debate.
The performance focuses on the story of Molly, who has anxiety, social anxiety and an emerging personality disorder. When joining a new school after previously being bullied, she is able to open up to her new classmates about her mental health through the process of free writing, echoing some of Clarke’s own work around free writing and catharsis. Elements of the performance relating to the stigmatisation of mental health were researched with Shout Out: Leeds young voices on mental health, a group of young people with lived experiences of mental health. The young people were able to work and contribute in parity with professionals and volunteers on the project, creating confidence in their ideas and thus boosting self-esteem. This supports Space2’s vision of the use of the arts as a tool for mental wellbeing.
Space2 co-produced an integrated package of mental health awareness approaches for secondary schools, college settings and community groups, aligning with Space2’s principles of co-production and genuine collaboration between artist, participant and producer, breaking down hierarchies and encouraging the aspirations, confidence and self-esteem of young people.
The performance, workshop and resource pack has been created in consultation with Time to Change Leeds and young people with lived experience of mental health issues. For further information visit https://www.time-to-change.org.uk/hub/time-to-change-leeds