In an article in The Conversation (McArthur et al., 2021), factors such as ‘strict stay-at-home orders, repeated opening and closures of schools, social distancing from peers and other supports, limited or no access to sport and extracurricular activities, and many missed milestones such as graduation’ have all been cited as having a detrimental effect on youth mental health due to COVID-19. Dion Khlentzos, Senior Lecturer in Counselling at Excelsia College shares his thoughts about this concerning issue and the role that counsellors can play in a child’s life.
‘Young people in Australia have had it tough over the last two years. A press release from Camp Australia (2022) has documented the alarming rise in youth mental health problems since the start of the pandemic, with parents and school principals indicating their concerns about their children’s mental and physical health during this time. Particular concern was expressed by parents in the states with the longest lockdowns: Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT. Children and teens have had much less opportunity than previously to experience the joy of connecting with other young people over these last couple of years.
In some cases, professional help may be required to help improve a young person’s mental health. In these cases, the parents may choose to seek counselling for their children. Counsellors can work with the parents, the child, or the whole family to make a well-rounded assessment of the young person’s mental health and overall functioning, followed by some counselling sessions to help provide awareness of the specific issues that may be hindering the young person’s healthy functioning,’ Dr Khlentzos explains.
If you are interested in being trained as a counsellor within a Christian world view, Excelsia College’s Master of Counselling course covers a wide range of issues relevant to working with people of all ages. Subjects include Counselling Theories and Models; Approaches to Mental Health; Relational Dynamics; Trauma, Grief and Loss; Group Process: Theory and Practice; Development and Diversity; and other relevant areas, including elective units such as Introduction to Counselling Children and Young People and Introduction to Family Systems and Couples. The Master of Counselling is accredited by the major national counselling bodies PACFA and ACA and gives students the opportunity to put their skills into practice through one of our counselling placements.
Camp Australia. (2022, March 22). Supporting children’s wellbeing critical to safeguard the next generation’s mental health. Camp Australia. campaustralia.com.au/blog/supporting-children-s-wellbeing-critical-to-safeguard-the-next-generation-s-mental-health
McArthur, B. A., Racine, N., & Madigan, S. (2021, August 10). Child and youth mental health problems have doubled during COVID-19. The Conversation. theconversation.com/child-and-youth-mental-health-problems-have-doubled-during-covid-19-162750
Malcolm Frawley is a drama lecturer and has been with Excelsia College since 2014. He brings over 35 years of professional experience, with a background in teaching and producing plays across Australia. Frawley’s latest play Lawfully Short was written for first-year Excelsia College Bachelor of Dramatic Art students. The play explores themes like neuro and racial diversity, stereotyping, typecasting and the life purposes of the group of students. We asked Frawley about his creative process whenever he puts a new show together and how working and getting to know the students helps him to craft the play.
Frawley explains, ‘I have now created three short programs in a row for Excelsia. In 2020, I was pretty sure that, no matter who they were, the students’ families would probably have no idea what the student did at an acting school, and no real idea of the type of life they were considering. So I decided to explain it to them in Dramatically Short. I devised three new short (30–35 min) plays that focus on different aspects of the performing arts – writing, directing, and acting.
‘I had worked with my likely 2021 cast in 2020, so for my second Shorts program I consulted with the group and discussed possible themes or issues we might like to explore. I also asked each of them to define, in one phrase or even one word, the type of role that they would like to have a shot at – romantic, powerful, vulnerable, deceitful etc. I then put together several much shorter plays. To keep it consistent, I had one character from each play appear in the following play. Roles incorporating their chosen phrase or word were delivered to every member of the cast. During the time I was putting it together, Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame appeared in the media spotlight so I felt that the time was right to explore the treatment of women in modern Australia.
‘This year, I started with an eight-minute play I had produced years before, a send-up of the “Previously On” section of many television dramas. It was set in a law firm soap opera, hence the title Lawfully Short. This time, I did not consult the cast about roles they might like to play, but I wrote specifically for each of them as I began adding 20 more short plays – this time very short, the longest was 8 minutes – alternating between scenes from the soap opera (Harbour City Solicitors) and scenes in which the actors who play the characters appear in their “real” lives. I also explored character traits of the actors and through collaboration utilised those in the plays and made them aspects of the play.’
When asked what makes Excelsia College productions unique to other creative and performing arts institutions, Frawley explains, ‘Although I have written and directed plays for several other acting schools over the years, Excelsia provides me with the option of thinking bigger, of how I might envisage staging my productions. While the performance space is huge, its shape and even size can be altered depending on the nature of the production. Because of the school’s multiskills training format, it also provides me with students who are learning stage management, design, costumes and prop making under the guidance of experts. The production team can be filled out by individual students who take on those roles. This provides me with a back-up that is not available at other schools.’
If you are inspired by Frawley’s passion and want to learn drama from our outstanding academic staff, why not explore our School of Creative and Performing Arts?