The Empathy Production 同理製作
The University of Hong Kong
Hui Sau Man (Project Leader)
Jayalath Mudiyanselage Shehani Dilunika Jayalath
Wong Chun Yip
Dr. Lisa Cheng
The team had a strong wish to reduce stigma and change misconceptions about suicide through an online campaign, with objectives/ of increasing the mental health awareness and empathy of individuals.
There were three major goals. The first one was to reduce public and self-stigma by individual sharing experience related to suicide. Second, they hoped to adopt a strength-based, and recovery-oriented approach by using the positive narratives of suicide survivors to change students’ and public’s misconceptions around suicide. The third goal was to increase students’ understanding of the internal world of someone who is suicidal and to strengthen their empathy.
The team started off by creating a Facebook page, a snapchat account and an Instagram account. Subsequently, they published 2-3 posts every week to raise public awareness of mental health and suicide prevention. The posts included useful information on where to get professional help (like hotlines of The Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong and other social services) as well as suicide-prevention techniques when facing emergency. They also posted several professionally-produced original videos, featuring interviews with mental health remitters, suicide survivors and mental health professionals. Apart from the online campaign, they also delivered an offline screening session. The session offered a chance for students to ask two mental health professionals questions, based on the theme “how to help a suicidal person”.
IMPACTS AND OUTCOMES
With the four videos interviewing university students who once suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts, the team noticed encouraging and supportive responses from viewers’ comments. The videos telling human stories (lived experience with mental illness) also opened room for discussion and revealed a more humanistic view on recovery and remissions. Public stigma and self-stigma related to the subject of suicide were therefore reduced. The videos, moreover, made use of the stories of suicide survivors to modify misconceptions and rebut stereotypes. For example, the viewers understood from the interviewees who had suicidal thoughts were not due to being weak, but because of the hopelessness, and the lack of resources to cope with their pain. In addition, since the interviewees were university students aged 20-25, who had similar backgrounds of education and daily lives of the targeted audience, thus, a mutual understanding and empathy was greatly generated and enhanced among students. As for the offline screening session, the Director of The Samaritan Befrienders Hong Kong was invited to identify the misconceptions that students had based on the questionnaires done on campus, and suggested the correct suicide prevention tactics.
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