There are lots of different ways to engage with drama. It doesn’t necessarily mean acting out Shakespeare plays, it could just be icebreaker games such as charades or ‘guess the animal’, which involve acting out certain things. Acting is a form of communication that uses the whole body and requires you to express yourself with more than just words, and, for that reason, it can feel very satisfying as a way of releasing pent up energy or emotions dramatically.
Lots of theatres around the UK have youth groups, or welcome submissions and contributions from new or lesser heard voices and perspectives. New theatre formats such as ‘immersive’ or ‘promenade’ theatre, where the actors perform amongst and interact with the audience, reflect the way that drama has become more intimate and personal, and initiatives such as community theatre give people a platform to think about and express what life is like for people within their community or who hold their particular identity status.
Asking at school, university or your local amateur dramatic society or arts centre is a good place to start if you want to get involved with drama. You might want to try your hand at acting in a play, writing or performing an individual or personal performance piece, or joining an improv group. You can even use your phone to film and edit short films and possibly submit to local film festivals. Having a community of like-minded, supportive people who you see regularly might help you with anything you’re going through, and channelling what you’re feeling into art might help you understand and process it better. And if you don't want to be the star yourself, there are plenty of behind the scenes roles such as set-designer, lighting-designer or stage-management which will provide you with the opportunity to be part of the creative process without having to actually perform.
There isn’t much academic research in the area of self-care for young people who are living with mental health issues. We are trying to find out more about what works for different people so we can better advise other young people what to try.
If you’ve tried this activity when you were struggling in relation to your mental health, please let us know if it helped you and how by clicking on the ‘Did this activity help you’ button.