Mental Health: Silence the Stigma was produced by students in a Fall 2018 section of Digital Storytelling, taught by Dr. Bill Wolff, at Saint Joseph’s University. The object was to create a class-wide transmedia story about how a particular social justice-related issue/challenge/concern is understood by individual members of the SJU university community. Our goals were to empower, raise awareness, and hopefully start a dialogue that could lead to change.
Students chose Mental Health as the subject of the project after raising and deliberating about 21 possible subjects. Students chose Mental Health because they were concerned about a campus (and global) climate that unfairly stigmatizes, and as a result, silences people who experience concerns with their mental health. Each student located one person to interview and collaborated with that person to help them tell their story in a way that would accurately reflect their experiences and, in doing so, empower them. Each student filmed the photographed the portraits, conducted and filmed the interview, edited the videos. All persons reviewed and signed consent forms granting permission to share their stories online. When a person wanted to share their story but did not want to appear on film, the student worked with them to compose a written narrative, which someone else read while being filmed.
The project was inspired by two recent CNN interactive digital stories, “The First Time I Realized I Was Black” and “25 Influential American Muslims,” as well as our many readings on the power of storytelling and recent social media movements. We are indebted to CNN producers, Jacque Smith and Tawanda Scott Sambou, who offered their time and expertise to help students better understand digital storytelling practices and craft.
If you or anyone you know is experiencing feelings of and associated with a lack of belonging, please consider visiting the CAPS center or reaching them at 610-660-1090. For more urgent assistance, call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).