What's Up With Alex
This collaborative study will examine whether animated stories produced by Aardman Animations can assist young people in building awareness of and responding to mental health challenges. Typically, young people face multiple and significant barriers regarding their mental health. They may be unaware that they need help in the first place or where to access support. While such an audience may be emotionally intelligent, they can lack both the mental health literacy and finances to access timely help - something highly valued when facing very stressful periods, for example, around examination times. It is at such points that young people struggle to allocate time to seek support.
Our central question is: Can co-created, animated stories and companion app increase young people’s mental health literacy?
This study adds a new dimension to the portfolio of health humanities projects supported by the AHRC, aligning strongly with and bridging two streams in its new Strategic Development Plan: a) in supporting research on mental health as an interdisciplinary contemporary challenge; and b) addressing how arts and humanities research can support creativity and the creative economy. In so doing, it brings together expertise in world-beating animation, health and the arts and humanities alongside a scientific, social and behavioural evaluative layer that seeks to advance transformative impacts in policy, provision and practice relevant to statutory and third sector organisations supporting mental health literacy among young people.
Our chief partner, Aardman, have a stellar history in film animation, winning numerous major awards and nominations including Academy Awards, Golden Globes, BAFTA Awards, Annie Awards and many others. Aardman has prided itself on creating short films on mental health to advance literacy, not least ‘Share the Orange’ (Alzheimers Research UK), ‘Bristol Ageing Better’ (Isolation and Loneliness) and, most recently, ‘New Mindset’, narrated by Stephen Fry. This proposed programme of work will strengthen a grand ambition at Aardman for advancing mental health literacy through animated storytelling.