The Experience is a fictional digital narrative about a girl, Eva, reflecting on a period in her life when she was mentally ill.
We crafted The Experience with the conviction that by delving into a character’s innermost thoughts and emotions, we can evoke empathy and compassion for the often alienating experience of mental illness.
The Experience is non-traditional in its storytelling. The only guiding principle is that it had to feel intimate. We provide a narrative, and illustrations of items in her bedroom. Yet we have also speckled The Experience with “home videos” of Eva facing a webcam, reading out quotes from 4.48 Psychosis.
The idea of the readings was inspired by literature lessons where students bonded with literary texts when reading them aloud in class; and by the way youth share quotes on instagram or tumblr with their circle of friends. We wanted to demonstrate how literary words resonate with Eva, and have the power to tell her story - an experience which we believe can be universal.
It is also deliberately filmed to reflect the ease in which youth communicate today: through zoom calls, and brief videos on instagram stories/tik tok/snapchat. It is raw and unsanitized, yet there lies the intimacy.
A feel of the moment. Let these readings speak to you, but don’t let yourself get overwhelmed by them.
The most unique aspect of The Experience is our “fourth-wall breaking” guided mental health commentary. We wanted to help our audiences responsibly engage with the content, and ultimately learn more about mental health. This belief led us to inviting mental health experts, Dr. Matthew Woo and Aishah Alattas, to provide us with direction in drafting the commentary. The commentary is meant to guide audiences to dissect the content in the videos, and gain a more objective understanding. It is a form of “review”, that is integral to The Experience.
Narrative & Words: Bea K T
Design & Illustration: Ang Cheng Hui
Sound/Music: Andrew Fordham
Expert Consultant: Dr. Matthew Woo
Dr. Matthew Woo is currently a principal consultant clinical psychologist and director with Riverlife Psychology. He was formerly in the employment of the Institute of Mental Health for 19 years, and held the position of Senior Principal Clinical Psychologist and Deputy Head of the Department of Psychology. He is the recipient of two Health Manpower Development Program fellowship awards for Community Psychiatry (Los Angeles and Chicago, in 2003) and Sex Offender Interventions (Portland, in 2010).
Expert Consultant: Aishah Alattas
Aishah Alattas has a background in clinical psychology and has worked with individuals with a multitude of mental health issues in community as well as hospital settings. She has also been involved in theatre productions as an actor and producer with a particular interest in theatre as a medium to provide insight into the human condition. She completed a Masters in Affective Disorders and is now pursuing a PhD where her research is focused on leveraging smartphone technology and artificial intelligence to deliver preventative mental health intervention to youth.