Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

The S Word

Monday, 04 June 2018

S Word (2) 2 web

Oxford Brookes BA English Literature and Drama Alumna Billie Short, spoke at a recent Think Human Festival event to highlight a mental health issue, which she believes should be discussed more freely.

Billie, has been working closely with Coventry and Warwickshire branch of the mental health charity Mind, and has created a new play aimed at raising awareness about mental health and suicide. Her presentation The S-Word, was part of the Human Story Theatre Scenes From . . . event on 24 May 2018, at Harcourt Hill Campus. This showed extracts from a film of her play, with the aim of highlighting the issues that young people face.

The film was made with a company created by other Brookes graduates. It has been shown to ten secondary schools in Coventry and Warwickshire. There is also the possibility of it featuring as part of a social work course at one of the region’s universities.The aim would be to give a broader understanding of mental health and the stigma some people link to suicide.

Billie took Brookes Senior Drama Lecturer Carina Bartleet’s specialist option, Spectacular Origins: Theatre, Madness, and the Mind. Billie’s approach to creating the play was influenced by coursework she did on verbatim theatre, for her second year core module: British Theatre.

She explained the difficult personal circumstances which led her write the play: "When I was in the second year, sadly, a male cousin committed suicide. As a result of that, I wanted to make more people aware and to be able to talk about the subject. So, I decided to channel what I had learned and used the platform of theatre to do that.”

In terms of responses, Billie says that the production has helped to start conversations which might not have happened before - especially among teenagers.

“I didn’t want to make it too raw, or too emotional or too difficult to watch. The feedback I’ve had is that I’ve pitched it quite well with young people. People hear ‘suicide’ and assume it’s a no-go area. I’ve tried to show it in a way that’s accessible.”

“If there’s a child or young person viewing the film and they think: ‘I’ve felt this way before’, if they can start a conversation without embarrassment...someone could get the support they need.”

Oxford Brookes Counselling offers a range of services for students, including individual, online and group support.

Find out more about courses in English Literature and Drama in the Department of English and Modern Languages