Misericordia University students, alumni and faculty will be featured when WVIA premieres the documentary, “The Voices Project: Mental Health,” on Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. The film chronicles the student research project designed to promote the understanding and reduce the stigma of mental illness. The film will air throughout the month on WVIA in observance of Mental Health Awareness Month.
“The Voices Project: Mental Health” is the fourth chapter in an on-ongoing research project conducted by Alicia Nordstrom, Ph.D., professor of psychology, that explores society’s attitudes towards individuals considered different. In the fall of 2016, Dr. Nordstrom collaborated with Amanda Caleb, Ph.D., associate professor of English and Medical and Health Humanities, to have their students interview more than 60 people with mental health conditions and their family members to learn about their lives. A wide variety of conditions were explored including anxiety, depression, suicide, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Based on their interviews, the students wrote a first-person narrative about the person they interviewed to share how the mental health conditions affect their lives. A team of faculty members from history, English, mass communications and psychology integrated the narratives into a theatrical performance. It debuted on the Misericordia campus in April 2017, and was selected for the Plays with a Purpose Outreach Program and presented at the Broadway Bound Theatre Festival in Manhattan.
The 30-minute documentary captures actual interviews conducted by Misericordia students with individuals experiencing schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and eating disorders, as well as family members of those with substance abuse and Alzheimer’s disease. The Misericordia students featured include Faith Sinclair, a nursing major from Saco, Maine; Ian Anderson, a nursing major from Mountainville, New York; Sarah Bender, a statistics major from Raritan, New Jersey, and Kierra Berrin, a health sciences major in the occupational therapy program from Babylon, New York, and 2018 alumna Courtney Answini, a sport management student from Wilkes-Barre.
“I am so proud of our students and the thoughtful insight they have provided. To have WVIA air ‘The Voices Project: Mental Health’ across the region underscores the need for people with mental health conditions – and their families – to be heard and understood,” Dr. Nordstrom said. “As an academic at heart, I'm always learning ways to improve on my projects in order to deepen the learning of my students and share what we have experienced. The power of these interviews will benefit the entire community.”
In addition to the Oct. 10 premiere, the documentary will air on Oct. 10 at 8:30 p.m., Oct. 11 at 1 and 1:30 p.m., and Sunday, Oct.13 at 4:30 p.m.
The original The Voices Project in 2009 addressed stereotypes and prejudice towards individuals from different groups including race, religion, ethnic, sexual orientation, social class, and health status. The second phase involved individuals with physical health conditions, including deafness, blindness, dwarfism, spinal cord injury and stroke. WVIA videotaped the staged reading of the program and broadcast it multiple times. A link to the 52-minute video is at www.misericordia.edu/voicesproject.
“Voices U.S./U.K.” was produced in 2014-15 as the third phase of the project focusing on sociological and cultural differences on the two continents involving students from Blackburn College in Lancashire, England. As with the other Voices Projects, many misconceptions held by both sets of students were debunked through the process.
Dr. Nordstrom is a clinical child psychologist who joined the Misericordia University faculty in 2004. She has presented her Voices Project research findings at conferences in Canada, France and across the U.S., and received teaching awards from the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues and the Social Psychology Network for her work. She also presented a talk at TEDxLancaster in 2016.
For more information about the Department of Psychology at Misericordia University, please call (570) 674-6400 or visit www.misericordia.edu/psych.
Misericordia University students, alumni and faculty will be featured when WVIA premieres the documentary, ‘The Voices Project: Mental Health,’ on Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. Shown, front row from left, are students Sarah Bender, Raritan, N.J., and Faith Sinclair, Saco, Maine; and faculty members Amanda Caleb, Ph.D., associate professor of English and Medical and Health Humanities, and Alicia Nordstrom, Ph.D., professor of psychology; second row, students Kierra Berrin, Babylon, N.Y., and Ian Anderson, Mountainville, N.Y.