StigmaBeat: A youth-led storytelling project to beat mental health stigma in rural Victoria

A unique new storytelling project will launch at Latrobe Youth Space in Morwell on Saturday 19 November, with a new series of short films co-created by young people in Gippsland focused around reducing mental health stigma.

Research tells us that approximately 1 million children across Australia grow up in a family where a parent has a mental health challenge. In Gippsland, this equates to 5,000 children.

StigmaBeat is a dynamic, youth-led, storytelling project that aims to create positive social change to end the stigma that is often associated with mental ill health. Funded by an FRRR ABC Heywire Youth Innovation Grant and the Latrobe Health Assembly, StigmaBeat was made possible through a partnership between Monash University, Australian Catholic University, researchers from Canada the UK, and Sweden and Satellite Foundation. 

The project grew from a desire to identify and address the structural drivers of stigma, as experienced by rural young people, in families where a parent experiences mental health challenges.  Project lead, Dr. Rochelle Hine from Monash Rural Health explains, “we found that mental health stigma interacts with and exacerbates other forms of stigma and discrimination, such as sexism, racism and homophobia. We were curious to find out how these findings might resonate for a cohort of rural young people.”

“The willingness of the young people to share their stories and connect with each other was truly awesome. Their collective energy, knowledge, and creativity made for very rich conversations and clarity about what needs to change,” said Rose Cuff, CEO, Satellite Foundation.

The Stigmabeat Workshops

In July 2022, 18 young people aged 15-25 years from Gippsland participated in StigmaBeat’s two workshops at Latrobe Youth Space in Morwell, co-facilitated by peer leaders from Satellite Foundation. These peer leaders also have lived experience of parental mental health challenges. The highly interactive workshops featured dialogue, storytelling, art, filming, and photography and were designed to create a safe and inclusive space for deep and brave conversations.

Young people engaged in discussion, games and creative exploration. Questions included: What is stigma? How does it impact on you? What would your life look like if there was no stigma? Where do you experience stigma? What would make a change? Who needs to hear these messages?  

StigmaBeat Launch: Saturday 19 November 2022

Join Monash University and Satellite Foundation for the launch of the StigmaBeat project and screening of the three StigmaBeat films. These films were co-created with young people as an outcome of the StigmaBeat workshops and aim to reduce stigma around mental health. They will be publicly screened for the first time at the StigmaBeat launch on 19 November at Youth Space in Morwell.

When: 2:00pm, Saturday 19 November
Where: LaTrobe Youth Space, Morwell, 497B Princes Drive, 3840

The next steps for the StigmaBeat project

Following the launch, the digital resources will be promoted widely, and used as a tool for advocacy around increased resources in the mental health service system. They will also be available to rural communities to use for professional development, and community education. The young people spoke about encountering stigma in many settings including schools, health services, and in families. The films provide examples of stigmatising behaviour that people can identify with but may not have thought of as problematic. They will demonstrate how to create safe spaces for open conversations, and show the possibilities of a world without stigma.