Putting the spotlight on youth mental health

Year 11 drama students from across the Hunter region will take to the stage for this year’s MindPlay Grand Final this Thursday 18th June at Hunter Theatre in Broadmeadow, shining a light on issues related to young people, schools and mental health and wellbeing.


Hosted by the Hunter Institute of Mental Health, in partnership with local headspace centres Newcastle and Maitland, MindPlay is an annual school drama competition that aims to provide an opportunity for young people to safely put a voice to the mental health issues that they witness, hear about or may have experienced first-hand at some point in their lifetime.


A record number of schools from the region registered for this year’s competition. Auditions were held in in late May where school groups performed a 15-minute piece they had written and directed, exploring issues facing young people and the important role teachers and schools play in promoting positive mental health and wellbeing.


Six finalists are now set to perform at the 300-capacity Hunter Theatre in Broadmeadow to a live audience on Thursday evening. The young actors will take on dramatic portrayals of complex issues such as anxiety, eating disorders and trauma.


Finalists this year include Dungog High School, Lambton High School, Hunter Valley Grammar, Hunter School of Performing Arts, Bulahdelah Central High School and Maitland High School.


Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three schools, with first prize sponsored by the Rotary Club of Newcastle Enterprise.


Hunter Institute Acting Director Dr Gavin Hazel says the drama competition provides a valuable educational and creative experience for participants.


“Initiatives like MindPlay are important as they provide a fun and accessible opportunity for young drama students to connect with other young people, explore and learn more about mental health issues, and promote mental health awareness in the community.


“Young people spend a considerable amount of time attending school, so the focus of this year’s MindPlay competition aims to recognise and highlight how teachers and the school community can help to improve the mental wellbeing of students,” he said.


Entries are judged on both the accuracy of the mental health message and the quality of their dramatic performance. The judging panel is made up of professionals with health and theatrical backgrounds.


Limited tickets are still available from the Hunter Theatre Box Office; please see for more details.


Written by Newcastle Live

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