Evaluation of the impact and changes in attitudes to military mental health issues for the audience following The Shell Shock Performance

Winn, Linda C. and Odell-Miller, Helen (2018) Evaluation of the impact and changes in attitudes to military mental health issues for the audience following The Shell Shock Performance. Project Report. Forces in Mind Trust, Cambridge, UK.

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Abstract

The Shell Shock theatre production (http://www.shellshock.org.uk) is adapted from Shell Shock: The Diary of Tommy Atkins, a book by a combat veteran (Blower, 2011). The play is a single-person performance that charts the story of a soldier returning to civilian life. The character has been played by both male and female actors. Initially, the person returns, glad to be home and full of hope for finding work and resuming relationships. One by one these hopes fall away. Family members and friends react in different ways and do not necessarily understand the soldier’s experience; they are concerned with their own life problems. The character battles with adjusting to civilian life. Employment applications are rejected. Eventually work is found, but the veteran is unable to maintain it, as anger, depression, and traumatic nightmares all impinge on life. Violent outbursts disrupt relationships. Sources of support melt away. Denial of mental health issues and fear of stigma manifest themselves (Deahl, Klein, and Alexander, 2011; Iverson et al., 2011; Sharp et al., 2015) and preclude the character from seeking help until a last-minute reprieve. The 2017 tour played in the South of England and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. A team from Anglia Ruskin University researched the impact of the performance on audience members. The quest for the research team was to evaluate the influence of a performance of Shell Shock on audience members. Firstly, whether the play made an impact on audience members. Secondly, whether the play could act as a catalyst for change in behaviour and attitude towards mental health problems in military personnel and veterans. Eighty audience members volunteered to participate in an anonymous electronic survey; paper copies of the survey were also available. Nine research participants volunteered for a telephone interview, which consisted of a set questions to provide a framework for discussion. The interview provided the opportunity for the person to provide more detailed views to inform the study. The data from the electronic survey produced quantitative results and participants also had the opportunity to add additional comments. The telephone interviews were transcribed and then themes emerged through scrutiny of the interviews.

Item Type: Research Report or Working Paper (Project Report)
Keywords: mental health, military, veterans, theatre, dramatherapy
Faculty: Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic User
Depositing User: Symplectic User
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2019 15:34
Last Modified: 16 May 2019 08:27
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/704282

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