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Yesterday, today, Temora
December 08, 2016

By Barbara Beinart Pashut 

On Friday the 28th October 2016, the 6th Golden Plains Dramatic Minds Festival was held in the form of a film festival and art exhibition, with films made by local high school students from across regional NSW on the topic mental health and illness.

It was an honour and privilege for me to work alongside the Newly appointed SchoolLink District Clinical Leader for Murrumbidgee Local Health District (MLHD), psychologist John Dean. The festival is the brainchild of John, who’s had a passion for mental health for years. Starting out as a farmer, John believed that mental health simply wasn’t being dealt with in regional and rural NSW.

“The Dramatic Minds Festival was started in Wagga Wagga in 2009. The aim was to increase young people’s knowledge of mental health issues and to change their attitude toward those who have mental health problems. We have achieved this by discussing mental health issues with students earlier in the year and then encouraging them to develop creative ways to present this to the public later in the year.” Said John.

John has been incredibly eager to ensure that youth in regional Australia are equipped to better understand mental health and his hard work and dedication to the communities of regional Australia is admirable.

Since it’s inception, The Dramatic Minds Festival has been held not only in Wagga Wagga, but also Albury, Griffith, Tumut, Deniliquin and Temora. Each of these location also involves many of the schools in their local areas. Temora is the first Festival to also include art and film.” John said.

As a filmmaker with Bus Stop Films, I was delighted to attend the Dramatic Minds Festival, facilitate a workshop on mental health awareness with Temora high school students and be one of the judges of the film competition (which wasn’t an easy task).

Upon arriving at Wagga Wagga airport, I was met by John – we had a lot to talk about and we chatted all the way to the charming and friendly town of Temora, which was adorned with yellow canola fields. I then accompanied John to the Temora Hospital and helped set up for the event at the Temora Ex Services Club. I took photos all the way along my journey starting from the plane, then on the drive to Temora, at the workshops and at the Film Festival!

It was a pleasure meeting Alana Hester, the Temora high drama teacher and all the school students. They were delightful and enthusiastically engaged in the workshop I facilitated on mental health. I used, writing, drawing movement, singing and meditation in this workshop. It was wonderful to hear that the students enjoyed my workshops, it showed me that we need more programs like this in our schools.

The workshop was good as we all got different perspectives on different things surrounding mental health”, said one student Shiobhan.

The drama workshop from Barbara was very good to explore the mind and the body, to be able to really understand what is happening in our minds.” Kaitlin said.

“Barbara was very inspirational and fun, she taught us a lot about drama and mental health. I had a great time and learned a lot from the workshop” said Another student, Samantha.

Since 2006 I have been facilitating my Innersens4Life workshops for people with intellectual disabilities, mental health issues, carers, women in domestic violence, the elderly and women’s groups. It was an incredible experience  to work with and teach these high school students.

As part of the festival, the school students were invited to conduct research and make films about mental health. The films demonstrated the amazing ability of our regional youth. I was extremely impressed by their knowledge, empathy and maturity in dealing with the subject matter. It was  a wonderful project and something I would like to see happen in Sydney. It was also interesting to hear how they found the film making process. The students spent months  producing their short films which explored mental health as well as  alcohol and other drug related problems.

A still from the winning documentary.

A still from the winning documentary.

Students and teachers across the Temora, Bland, Junee and Coolamon Shires were supported to produce the films by The Temora Community mental Health Drug & Alcohol Team.

“The students and teachers have worked hard to better understand mental health problems and display this through film,” John Dean said. John believes film is a powerful way to educate people and break down stigmas “The highlight of this year’s Festival really was the quality of the film entries. Some of the entries have the potential to be used in a significant way to raise awareness and reduce stigma around mental health problems.” He said.

Temora High School accept their award for best film clip from Barbara Pashut at the Golden Plains Dramatic Minds Festival.

Temora High School accept their award for best film clip from Barbara Pashut at the Golden Plains Dramatic Minds Festival.

I spoke about my personal journey  and shared some positive tips on mental health well being. I also shared a short poetic, documentary “Gratus” which I made with 6 others, and a film about how we made “Gratus” called, “On the Road to Gratus”. The film was made through a documentary studies course for people with lived experience of mental health issues, developed and delivered by Bus Stop Films, and made available through the 3 Bridges, partners in recovery, mental health program.

When the World Health Organisation estimates that worldwide, more than 150 million people suffer from depression and some 125 million people are affected by alcohol-use disorders – a festival like this is vitally important and we need more of these initatives everywhere. Talking about these issues which we face as a society, will put us all in a greater possition to create possitive change.

The festival was allround an incredible event to be a part of, an added bonus for me was that I got to meet a fellow South African, Stiaan Fourie, the local Personal Helpers and Mentors (PHaMS) support worker and social worker. I met his family and enjoyed a delicious South African breakfast at their home the following morning.

The 6th Festival was again supported by the Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) based out of the Centre for Rural & Remote Mental Health.  RAMHP Partnerships Manager Tessa Caton was at the Festival to present awards. Local mental health advocate Alan Harper also gave an inspirational talk. Temora Community Drug Action Team (CDAT) and Open Minds Brighter Futures Mental Health Support Group both supported the event. The organisers also acknowledged the ongoing support of Evolution Mining at Lake Cowal.

What a wonderful time I had. Thank you!

Let’s continue to break the stigma of mental health

Move to the future……… with knowledge we move forward ………. learn today from Temora!

Check out a reel Barbara made about her experience at the Dramatic Minds festival:

About the author;

Barbara Beinart Pashut is a mother of 2 children, is an accomplished public speaker, mental health and disability advocate, poet and dPeer Educator at The Recovery College. She is also the founder and producer of The Daydream Believers Inclusive Choir, Founder and facilitator of Innersens4Life Workshops and MMM- Sensational Musical Mooves and Meditation.

For more information on Barbara and her initiatives check out:

DayDream Believers, facebook website: Click here

Innersens4Life on instagram
For inquiries, email: innersens4life@hotmail.com

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