Dewsbury theatre production provides crucial platform for men to share mental health experiences

This week a group of men from Kirklees delivered their first creative performance exploring their experiences of mental health and journeys towards recovery to an audience of over 50 people at Connect Housing in Dewsbury.
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The 40-minute production was performed on Tuesday, March 21, by clients of Community Links Engagement and Recovery’s (CLEAR) Men’s Talk, a creative advocacy project for men who have experienced mental health issues.

The piece explored themes including depression, suicide, social isolation, and self-harm and delved into societal attitudes towards men’s mental health and how these can begin at a young age.

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The project, part of mental health and wellbeing services provider Community Links, and commissioned by Kirklees Council, uses applied theatre and filmmaking to reduce stigma, signpost support and encourage men to talk about their mental health.

Participants in the Men's Talk theatre performance.Participants in the Men's Talk theatre performance.
Participants in the Men's Talk theatre performance.

Stuart Hawkes, community engagement lead for CLEAR Community Links Engagement and Recovery, said: “Using theatre has been a very effective way to engage men who had experienced mental health issues.

“The play has been written and co-produced by members of Men’s Talk; with the men acting out the experiences of different members of the group. By coming together as a cast, they were a support system for one another.

“We have 13 more performances to go in a variety of settings including local theatres, conferences, and council events.

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“We hope the piece helps raise awareness of the issues that anyone can face and encourages people who need it to seek support.”

Asked if being involved had been good for their own mental health, participant, David, commented: “It gave me a reason to get out of Bed.”

Another participant, Andrew, said: “Men’s Talk has become an important part of my week. We have a goal and something to look forward to.”

Ruth Kettle, CEO at Inspire North – parent organisation of Community Links – said: “We are extremely proud of the Men’s Talk group and all the work that has gone into producing and performing the piece.

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“This project showcases the life-changing impact that having an outlet for open and supportive conversations can have, and the performance uniquely captures the men’s lived experiences in a creative and courageous way.”

To enquire about booking the Men’s Talk performance for your venue or event, email Stuart Hawkes at [email protected]

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