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the wellcome trust commission

how effective is engagement with theatre or the arts in preventing & treating youth anxiety & depression?


in june 2020, sumunum became one of a select number of teams funded by the Wellcome trust, UK to review the evidence on the aspects of interventions that could make a difference in preventing & treating youth anxiety and depression. 


sumunum’s site & research partner in this commission was Udaan - a mental health reform programme by the tata trusts at the regional mental hospital, nagpur. 

each commissioned team reviewed the evidence for one active ingredient.  the active ingredients are diverse & cover a range of options in the social development & sciences area to strengthen a unity of purpose - that being, preventing & treating anxiety and depression among the youth.

our active ingredient was “engagement with drama and the arts”

we engaged in a participatory insight analysis to review the available evidence on how effective engagement with theatre or the arts is in preventing & treating youth anxiety and depression.


the use of drama & the arts’ allowed us to explore, discuss & solve issues relevant to each individual & their circumstances. our sessions were focused on eliciting each individuals’ personal experience of living with a mental health issue & their journey of navigating through it. 


key to our success in the application process was our inclusion of arts-based practices & the vital perspective of those with lived experience of mental health difficulties. the chosen participants were involved in multimodal arts engagement sessions that were tailored to be non-judgemental, safe inclusive environment for self-expression & participation.   

in addition to the report, our project created an artistic depiction of the results of the insight analysis. individual & collective narratives have been interwoven with findings emerging from the review of the literature. this serves a dual purpose: 

  1. promotes social participation of youth with mental health issues & reducing stigma related to mental illness 

  2. provides engaging, accessible & impactful information for consumption & engagement by the general public. 

the commission ran from june 2020 to october, 2020. 

now, we are excited to share our findings with you! 

art matters for mental health!



this engagement would not have been possible without wellcome trust, our lived experience experts, udaan & our team.

the team was led by -


kamala easwaran - a mental health professional with over a decade of experience in developing & scaling mental health interventions & working with vulnerable populations. 


yog japee - a clore fellow (2012), the team’s drama and arts professional. yog is a seasoned arts practitioner with over 18 years of experience in creating bespoke applied arts interventions for development. 

tasneem raja - co-lead from our partner organization, Udaan. tasneem is a clinical psychologist with over 25 years of experience in operationalizing mental health programs.

we will be updating this space with more explorations, expressions, findings & recommendations from this study.

to know more, get in touch!

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