Our project gives a voice to those, who often can’t be heard. We’ll activate people with mental health issues and those going through psychosocial rehabilitation, especially from towns with low civic engagement. Through workshops of public speaking, theatre and humor our objective is to give them skills for better social interaction and higher employability, so they can gradually open themselves and become active citizens. If everybody doesn’t have a voice, are we really living in a democracy?
Three centres of the Slovenian Association for Mental Health located in smaller towns of Slovenia.
Slovenia is small, but the problem isn’t that there are few people living here, but more that we see ourselves as “small”. Everybody knows everyone and news travels fast. It’s great for social connections, but bad for developing stigmas of people who “don’t fit in”.
Individuals are therefore reluctant to talk about their mental stress. They close themselves and don’t participate as active members of the society, which weakens our democracy and social cohesion. Not many people do therapy, not many seek information, we have a high suicidal rate.
Luckily there are organisations like our partner ŠENT, who help spread awareness about mental health problems and provide counseling. We would like to add to their programs by adding arts and humor to form a safe space for social rehabilitation.
Our idea helps reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and contributes to the social integration of people diagnosed with a mental illness. A deeply rooted issue is fitting back into the society after receiving treatment. People report feeling not accepted by vast parts of society, because of false assumptions about mental issues.
We want to give these people a voice to tell their side of the story through workshops and performances. Teaching them to form a strong opinion will help them build a clearer picture of themselves as an equal part of the community, strengthening their self-acceptance and encouraging them to further indulge in other community activities. It would teach them to trust fellow citizens and teach other people about the importance of understanding mental disorders.
We will be working with people who have received a psychiatric diagnosis, undergone a treatment and have troubles fitting back into society, because they feel excluded. These people are actively participating in activities their mental health associations offer.
Mental illness can affect anyone, our target group consists of different people, who come from a variety of different backgrounds and various parts of the community. This enables connecting people with many different perspectives.
Shaping their opinion reaches above just telling stories, for language isn't just a way to present our ideas but it helps shape them, which is essential in forming a positive attitude about oneself and also the first step to building the self-esteem needed to become an active part of the society.
1. Establish a connection with associations that work with individuals with mental health issues [done]
2. Talk to experts about steps and approaches of psychosocial rehabilitation
3. Prepare a program of public speaking, improvisation and stand up comedy workshops
4. Promote workshops and establish groups of participants
5. Implement 2 semesters of workshops - spring and fall with a total of 3x48 hours of skill learning and sharing
6. Raise awareness of the importance of individuals’ mental health and promote social inclusion of people with long term or temporary mental stress through a video documentary about the project and two events performed by workshop participants
7. Evaluate project and reconsider long term possibilities of the connection of arts and social integration
By evoking a feeling of acceptance our participants will be able to empower the community by engaging more actively in social activities, such as confidently looking for employment and approaching job interviews, developing their personal talents, helping with different community events and for some participants also regularly performing on stage. We wish to see improvement in their social interaction as a result of identifying with who they really are and what makes them happy instead of their diagnosis.
We would consider it a success, if the project gains significant social and media attention which would spread destigmatisation of mental health issues and help us better understand how humor can be a useful tool in strengthening social integration and empowering vulnerable groups.
In impro theatre there are certain universal conventions that every improviser learns. This makes impro one of the few arts, where people can meet and collaborate on a stage right away, no matter where they are from. It’s a great way for a democractic conversation - instead of arming ourselves with arguments, we go into a conversation with no expectations and really listen to our partner. Stand up comedy on the other hand works as a confession booth - the artists speak about what they believe, wrapped in humor. With this many serious political topics can be opened with the power of comedy as the medium. A combination of these trainings can give people a way of conversing and reflecting on democratic issues all around Europe and can give a voice to those who are often neglected.
KUD Sokoli Tabor and KD IGLU are two organisations whose members love to teach and spread the skills and values of artistic expression. We have taught many collectives through our years of existence and can see how skills of stand up comedy and improvisational theatre can impact individuals. They become more attentive, more cooperative, they loosen their creative inhibitions and amplify their social interaction skills.
We passionately believe these skills are impactful and we want to help people with mental stress by teaching them these skills. It will allow them to establish connections through humor, increase the volume of their social voice and give them skills to improvise and lower stress levels in uncertain situations.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
program preparation: 6.000 EUR
implementation of workshops and presentations: 15.600 EUR
expert counseling: 2.800 EUR
support staff: 2.000 EUR
travel costs: 5.187 EUR
documentary: 5.100 EUR
administration: 1.500 EUR
design, print of info material: 1.400 EUR
PR staff: 700 EUR
social media ads: 300 EUR
rehearsal space costs: 720 EUR
3x internal production tech costs: 300 EUR
3x external production tech costs: 2.400 EUR
tech. equipment rent - rehearsals: 500 EUR
catering: 800 EUR
We would like to hear your experiences of connecting arts and humor in helping vulnerable groups find their voice and become active members of the society in your country. What were the benefits of this connection and what problems did you encounter along the way?