• Health, disability and wellbeing

Discover/Recover Theatre

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Discover/Recover is a preventative mental health project aimed at school children. This evaluation found it to be effective in improving mental health literacy and help-seeking behaviour, and reducing stigma.

Young people are at their most vulnerable during periods of transition, and it is perhaps unsurprising that a majority of mental health problems begin to manifest during teenage years. There is much support in the literature for interventions that are protective of young people’s mental health at this time. This is all the more pressing given the high rates of mental illness amongst young people in Ireland, especially young women and girls who, according to recent research, have the highest rate in the EU. 

This evaluation found evidence of improvement in the knowledge and awareness of mental health issues amongst the sample, including the signs and symptoms of mental illness, steps to take in response to them and where to seek help. In the follow-up evaluation. At follow-up, strong majorities agreed that they were less likely to be stigmatising, make offensive jokes and more likely to see people with severe and enduring mental illness as people of worth (63%, 75% and 83% respectively). For each potential source of help, we observe an improvement, including a statistically significant decrease in the proportion stating that they would not seek help from anyone. There were also statistically significant increases in the proportion that said they would be prepared to contact a professional, and a helpline for support. 

The play was highly endorsed by the young people and 92% supported its staging in other locations. Young people valued its contribution to their own knowledge and skills, especially their ability to recognise and respond to the signs and symptoms of mental illness. 80% said they were more likely to support policies that encourage spending on mental health support, suggesting that the play has the potential to build public support for better services.