Comic book focusing on teenage mental health and the need for kindness

Now, it's a story set in a future world where young people become frustrated by the shallowness of their lives, and look back to our time for help.

"The Rez" is a drama which draws on research by psychologists at Sussex University into teenage mental health. Its theme - the need for resilience and kindness - has struck a powerful chord during lockdown.

  • ITV News Meridian report by Malcolm Shaw

The Rez is set in a bleak future where people are cut off from each other, deprived of kindness and contact.

Savi is the central character of the forthcoming comic book and podcast drama, battling against the sinister figure of Jef, a product of artificial intelligence.

Savi and Jef

When we started developing this last year, obviously we had no idea what was going to happen. It's almost as though what we've been working on is actually happening now. I'm seeing posters going up around town saying 'be kind.' We're talking about the future where robots are delivering packages and there are no people on the streets.

Tim Pilcher- Editor, The Rez comic book
Children make 'stay at home' banners

The story draws on work by psychologists in the Cress Lab at Sussex University.

Their research found young people's mental health can be harmed or helped by subtle messages hidden in the media they consume.

  • Martin Spinelli- Senior Lecturer, University of Sussex

The Rez will also come out as podcast, though studio sessions for a previous production are now impossible under lockdown.

When we worked on The Rez, we realised this was a story about people being removed from each other, this future where technology has become so perfect we don't need to communicate. It has actually come true, so we're going to work with that and make it the feature of the show.

Lance Dunn- Showrunner, The Rez
The Rez will also come out as podcast

Workshops have already been held giving children a chance to visualise the characters.

8 to 14 year olds are now being invited to help shape the storyline itself.

We're going to have communications with young people in the past, meaning our time in 2020. They're going to be communicating with our characters in the future, giving them advice and ideas about kindness is and what real friends are.

Martin Spinelli- Senior Lecturer, University of Sussex

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