Anxiety is common in our communities. As common as our lack of understanding around it.
In 2016 the Royal Flying Doctor Service initiated an education program in Central Australian communities about the damaging effects of mental health, particularly anxiety. They approached us with a distinct need for our expertise in communicating important social messages across cultural and language barriers. We were contracted to produce an educational video about anxiety. The seeds of the story of anxiety Worry Boss were sown.
Introducing ‘Worry Boss’
Stories are a fantastic way to help a message resonate with its audience. This is particularly true for oral cultures that communicate information through stories. However, for a story to successfully communicate information across cultures and languages, it needs to find a way to speak from within the cultural paradigm of the target audience. Our solution for this challenge is simple but effective – authentic consultation; one needs to spend real time with clients and with members of the target audience, involving them in the story making process.
This is exactly what Christopher Brocklebank, italk Studios Director and scriptwriter, did in developing the script for Worry Boss. He spent plenty of time sitting down with Arrernte people, learning about anxiety and how it is experienced and talked about in Central Australian communities. He also spends many sessions talking with Royal Flying Doctor Service health staff Anne Bromhead and Jessica Waine. Through these consultations, ways were found to create a clear narrative that accurately describes feelings that can be difficult be put into words.
In the video, the figure of Worry Boss became our leading metaphor. The two characters talk about Worry Boss in a way that personifies anxiety. Worry creeps up on you when you don’t expect it and can ‘be the boss of you’ if you don’t take care of yourself. When you are in his grips, Worry Boss can make it difficult to sleep and you can be irritable. You can feel overwhelmed.
Overcoming your Worry Boss
You need to get to know your Worry Boss to live better with it. The video helps people to identify those feelings more accurately and realise when they need help.
“One thing Worry Boss doesn’t like is company, he likes to get you all on your own”
Throughout the video, the characters discuss what Worry Boss likes and dislikes. By giving Worry Boss these preferences it becomes easier for our audience to discern between behaviours that feed their anxiety and those that don’t. By relating to this, our audience can remember how to reduce or relieve those distressing feelings.
“You can be the boss of that worry.”
We end this important video with a clear message that you can turn the tables on your Worry Boss. He does not have to be in charge, and you can become the boss of him. The character development of Worry Boss helps our audience understand the concept of intentional thoughts and actions in an easy, relatable way. The idea that you can be the boss of your own mind can sometimes be complicated, but by turning your feelings of worry into a character and giving people back their control, it instantly becomes more understandable and approachable
The success of Christopher’s narrative became evident when Worry Boss was first published on Facebook it received over 17,000 views in the first three days. Interestingly, this shows us that Worry Boss spoke to the intended audience and well beyond it, pointing to the universal issues about mental health that the story articulates.
The Worry Boss project is one of the most important we have worked on. There is a desperate need for increased education on this subject. We knew we were evoking change and contributing to a significant mental health issue. We are incredibly grateful to have been approached for this partnership.