MAC-UK was founded in 2008 by clinical psychologist Dr Charlie Alcock to engage with some of the UK’s most excluded and deprived young people who are most in need of support but least likely to access it. The unique MAC-UK model takes mental health into their territories on their terms to promote positive mental health through innovative youth led projects and one-to-one Street Therapy work.
Playing ON worked with young MAC-UK service users over a 10-week period with the group participating in weekly workshops tailor made to their needs, facilitating a process for them to share their stories, which were then developed into an hour long theatre piece. This was performed at the Roundhouse studio theatre in Camden.
One young person described their experience:
“…after you do the drama you get this feeling…it feels as if whatever was bothering you went away and you feel light and can do whatever you want around you, it makes the day simpler and you can concentrate on your activities, it makes you feel better, like at the end of the day when you come home from work tired and you want to put your feet up, you don’t feel guilty relaxing as you have done a hard days work. I wanted to understand the person and put myself in their shoes. At the end of it I felt good. 150% happy!” (participant)
Dr Johnny Downs, Registrar Child Psychiatry, The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust participated in the programme and had the following to say about it:
“ I joined MAC-UK because I am very interested in understanding what methods can be used to engage young people who may have mental health issues but struggle to access NHS services. The Playing ON theatre group provides that opportunity. It has helped me understand how theatre techniques can be used to build skills that enhance psychological understanding and resilience in young people without them, per se, feeling exposed to the stigmatising effects of mental health treatment”.