Ten Australians spend a week together. Five have a history of mental illness. Five do not. The question is – Who's Who?
How 'Mad' Are You? is a two-part series that queries the extent to which mental illness defines one's identity. With one in five Australians experiencing mental illness every year, these are pertinent question to be asking. By challenging the misconceptions and stereotypes around mental illness, the program aims to break down the stigma and initiate a discussion around mental health. In implementing a reality television format that draws on the groundbreaking 1972 Rosenhan social experiment, How 'Mad' Are You? avoids exploiting the experiences of the participants to instead explore the difficulty of drawing a line between being mentally 'ill' and mentally 'well'. In this way, How 'Mad' Are You? attempts to shift from a binary understanding of mental illness to instead consider mental health as a spectrum upon which everyone sits. The program opens up a dialogue regarding the current means of diagnosing mental illness, and asks the viewer to consider the complexities of human behaviour and experience, and to confront their own assumptions about mental illness in the process.
How 'Mad' Are You? can be linked to the following areas within the Australian National Curriculum:
- Health and Physical Education (Years 7-10)
- Geography (Year 10)
It is also suitable for students studying the following:
- Values and Ethics
- Society and Culture
- Media Studies
It relates to the following General Capabilities within the Australian Curriculum:
- Personal and Social Capability
- Ethical Understanding
- Critical and Creative Thinking
- Intercultural Understanding
One of the key focus areas within Health and Physical Education is mental health. How 'Mad' Are You? presents a means for students to explore and discuss key curriculum topics around preventative health strategies, the factors that shape identity and the role of others in supporting individual's identities, and the behavioural and contextual factors that influence the health and wellbeing of diverse communities. Similarly, human wellbeing is a key focus in Year 10 Geography, and links can be made to the spatial variations in wellbeing in Australia, and initiatives to improve wellbeing. How 'Mad' Are You? provides an example of a non-government initiative to improve awareness around mental health and wellbeing. Psychology is an increasingly popular junior elective and subject for senior study, and students consider human behaviour and biology across a range of key learning areas, including Science and Human Society and its Environment. How 'Mad' Are You? enables students to think through questions around social experiments and the ethics of various approaches, as well as the way in which social values and understandings of behaviour and psychology have changed over time.
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