1413539520 Together We Can News http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/ Together We Can News en info@togetherwecan.org.uk Copyright 2014 2014-10-17T09:52:00+00:00 Aiming to change the game in mental health http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/aiming-for-mental-health-in-sport http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/aiming-for-mental-health-in-sport#When:09:52:00Z Above: Hull FC v Hull Kingston Rovers at Hull’s KC Stadium, in August 2014

Maudsley Learning is working with the world of sport to raise awareness of the importance of mental as well as physical wellbeing.

In September 2010, the sport of Rugby League was shocked to hear of the suicide of one of its most famous players: the Great Britain forward Danny Newton. He was just 31, and serving a ban after having failed a drugs test.

Newton’s death stirred one league fan, Dr Phil Cooper, an NHS Nurse Consultant, into exploring what he could do to help prevent another similar tragedy. ‘I had a big interest in sport and a passion for mental health; drug and alcohol misuse was my day job. I wanted to know whether we could offer rugby league more support from the NHS. I had a couple of meetings, got some key people involved and it all snowballed very, very quickly.’

State of Mind programme

Now, backed by Rugby League’s governing body and several NHS Trusts, the State of Mind programme gives presentations on mental health to players and fans nationwide and helps them to access help where required. In August, a weekend of Super League games carried State of Mind branding, with accompanying events to raise awareness.

‘I think there was scepticism from club owners when we started,’ says Phil. ‘But players say that you need to be mentally fit to play. If your mind’s not working you can’t perform, no matter how physically strong you are. And I think clubs have got that message now.’

Phil and some of his team from State of Mind were among the speakers at ‘Game Changing in Mental Health: Tackling Stigma and Building Resilience in Elite Sport’, a groundbreaking conference on sport and mental health organised by Maudsley Learning in July.

Other speakers included Paul Farmer, the chief executive of MIND, as well as professionals with experience of most of the UK’s major sports, among them the England football team doctor Ian Beasley; the founder of the Professional rugby players union Damien Hopley, and Ian Braid of the British Athletes Commission. Paralympic archery champion Danielle Brown spoke about the pressures of focusing months or even years of work towards a single decisive day of competition.

Testimonies from people in sport

As well as presentations of current academic research, the conference heard first-person testimony from sports people who had faced their own mental health issues. Ex-Rugby League player Danny Sculthorpe, now one of State of Mind’s outreach workers, and award-winning tennis coach Oli Jones both spoke bravely and movingly about their own experiences of depression.

Issues explored included the effects of retirement and long-term injury on self-esteem; and the need for professional sports to look after the huge percentage of would-be elite athletes who fall short of their dream of playing professional sport. The overriding theme, though, was of working to remove the stigma of mental illness.

Most delegates believed that the benefits of addressing mental health issues in and around elite sport would also extend to sports supporters and the community at large.

‘Football is a working-class sport and it’s a tool we can use to reach a wider audience,’ said Michael Bennett, a former footballer with Millwall, Brentford and Brighton, who is now the FA’s Head of Player Welfare. ‘The issue of mental health is massive and it’s not going to go away. You’re always going to get players that get injured or lose their contracts. Relationship issues. Financial issues. I’m trying to get things in place to deal with the fallout for the players who are going through those issues.’

Acting before it's too late

There have been a string of high-profile cases of sportsmen struggling with mental health issues in recent years, including the suicide of Wales football manager Gary Speed in 2011. It was perhaps the public case of England cricketer Marcus Trescothick, forced home from a tour of India by depression, in 2006 that first started to bring the issue into the public eye. Dr Nick Peirce, who as Chief Medical Officer of the England and Wales Cricket Board, has worked with Trescothick, was chair of the conference.

‘I thought it was a great mixture of personal testimony and good information from specific sports,’ he said afterwards. ‘There was an interesting openness admitting that we don’t really know all the answers, even when we do have the resources. We need to work on coach education, addressing stigma… But clearly we’ve come some way in the last seven or eight years in starting to break through, but we still have a long way to go.’

Conference organiser Genevieve Glover said that the conference was intended as a springboard for Maudsley Learning’s ongoing exploration of the subject of mental health in sport. ‘We wanted to start a conversation about mental health and elite sport. We pulled a great bunch of people together from all sorts of disciplines and the key now is to do something with it, to maintain momentum.’

You can help us support more people with mental health issues in all walks of life by donating to SLAM.

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2014-10-17T09:52:00+00:00
SLaM psychologist Ella runs the Royal Parks Half Marathon http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/slam-psychologist-ella-runs-royal-parks http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/slam-psychologist-ella-runs-royal-parks#When:08:32:00Z Autumn is well and truly upon us, bringing with it one of London’s most famous and picturesque road races. The Royal Parks Half Marathon starts and finishes in Hyde Park, following a route through four of the capital’s magnificent Royal Parks and past its most iconic landmarks.

Amongst the runners tackling the 13.1 mile route were many of our wonderful supporters, all raising money for South London and Maudsley (SLaM).

Clinical psychologist Ella McCabe was one of those runners, taking her dedication to SLaM even further by raising money for Carelink, a mental health service for children in foster care and their carers. Carelink is run by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and offers support to young people up to the age of 18 who go through emotional distress or behavioural difficulties, often as a result of challenging early life experiences that resulted in them being taken into care.

‘The majority of the children we see have experienced abuse or neglect growing up,’ says Ella. ‘Carelink gives them somewhere to talk about distressing things or helps them use play, art, or drama to express their feelings. Support is also given to foster carers around how best to help the child in their new home and to schools around how to support the child's development.’

Statistics show that 60 per cent of children in care experience some form of mental health difficulties and one third of children involved in the criminal justice system have been in care. Carelink’s services are vital in supporting the children of Southwark who find themselves in such circumstances.

Over 16,000 runners competed with around 50,000 spectators cheering them on around the route, ensuring it was a fantastic atmosphere on the day for all. Ella finished in an impressive 1 hour 57 minutes and raised over £525 for Carelink.

'The atmosphere carried me along and I was thrilled with my time,' says Ella. 'Walking up and down the stairs is still sore! But I'm nearly there and all my friend's and family's support and donations have made it well worth it.'

Inspired to show your support and become a fundrasier for SLaM? Find out more about ways to get involved.

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2014-10-09T08:32:00+00:00
SLaM’s smallest fundraising initiative http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/slams-smallest-fundraising-initiative http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/slams-smallest-fundraising-initiative#When:13:30:00Z Sara Muzira was cleaning out her garage when she came across an old doll’s house. The discovery sparked an idea that enabled her and her son, Simba, to give something back to Maudsley Hospital.

Simba, 31, was treated for psychosis at the hospital as an inpatient on the Acute Men’s Ward. After leaving the ward, he enrolled in a 12-week occupational therapy course provided by the Community Link Centre, which was based within the hospital.

The Centre provides group activity programmes for people aged between 18 and 65 who are receiving mental health inpatient care at the hospital, as well as for people who are outpatients living in Southwark.

‘The Centre provided a lovely environment that focused on relationships, and it was nice to see Simba interested in normal activities,’ says Sara.

The art of wellbeing

During his time at the Centre, Simba took part in activities such as cooking and painting. Realising his talent for art, the staff gave him paints and canvases.

‘Simba had painted and done graffiti work before, but not for years, so it was good of them to pick up on something he could already do and was good at,’ says Sara.

He so excelled at painting that the Community Link Centre held a private viewing of his work.

‘Simba sold several of his pictures and used the money to pay for more materials,’ says Sara. 

Sara praises both the Centre and its staff as having a really positive effect on Simba.

‘The practical activities gave him focus and the Centre was such a calm and creative place,’ she says. ‘He was treated like an equal, but there was also a school vibe to the atmosphere. If you showed good behaviour, then in return you got to paint, creating mutual respect between Simba and the staff. The Centre isn’t a cure-all, but it was good for him to be around people who encouraged him to respect himself and other people, and who looked beyond his psychosis.’

For this reason, when Sara chanced upon the doll’s house, she came up with the idea to convert it into a gallery. Sara, Simba, and over 50 other artisists (many of whom had connections to Maudsley Hospital) created miniature pieces of art to exhibit within it.

Squeezing it all in

As the gallery is so small, the pieces could be no bigger than six inches by six inches, leading Sara to invent the name ‘The Ludicrously Small Art Gallery’. The gallery was exhibited in Bury St Edmunds in March of this year and was a great success, raising a total of £1,160. Several of the staff from the Centre attended the exhibition to show their support.

Following on from the success of ‘The Ludicrously Small Art Gallery’, Sara held ‘The Ludicrously Small Art Gallery, Round Two’ in early September and raised even more money for SLaM.

‘The exhibition went well. We raised £150 from the sale of work which I was really pleased with,’ says Sara. ‘It was lovely to be able to display the small works of art that were donated last time as well as new ones. They were all created especially for the gallery with a lot of care and it would be great to think that eventually it will all sell,’ she says.

And it still doesn’t end there!

‘I certainly intend to have another exhibition perhaps next year, and I may venture onto the internet with it. I’m hoping that even when visitors haven’t bought art, that they have been made aware of SLaM, and the many people with mental health issues that need its support,’ she says.

There are many ways you can fundraise for SLaM - find out how you can support people like Simba, now

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2014-09-29T13:30:00+00:00
‘There’s an extraordinary group of people who work at SLaM’ http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/new-slam-ceo-aims-to-break-down-boundaries http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/new-slam-ceo-aims-to-break-down-boundaries#When:09:47:00Z We met with Chief Executive of SLaM, Matthew Patrick, to reflect back on his first year in post, and discuss his commitment to ending the stigma around mental illness and transforming mental health care

An oft-quoted statistic states that one in four of us will experience a mental health difficulty in our lives. Dr Matthew Patrick, Chief Executive of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), says he prefers ‘the one-in-one statistic. Pretty much all of us at some time will have contact with people who are in emotional or psychological difficulty – and I include myself in that.’

But, Matthew adds, there’s still a huge taboo around mental health. And this is reflected not just in an unwillingness to talk about it, but also in the way services have been designed in the past.

‘Mental distress is scary,’ he says. ‘It’s difficult. Experiencing that loss of control is hard and can be very frightening. As a society, we try to keep disturbing or difficult things at a distance. It’s much easier if we can create a sense of “us and them”. But these boundaries are artificial – and setting out to dissolve them is one of the most important things we can do about stigma.’

Hands-on mental health

Matthew is no stranger to SLaM. He trained as an adult psychiatrist at the Maudsley and also at Bethlem Royal Hospital, and still practices alongside his chief executive responsibilities. 

‘I’d like to think that all of us are motivated by wanting to make a positive difference,’ he says. ‘Mental health is a really privileged occupation because you get to talk to people about the most personal aspects of their lives. I’m interested in people and human relationships, and understanding how and why that goes wrong.’

One of the biggest challenges since he arrived has been getting to grips with the sheer size of the Trust and its huge range of activities – 5,000 staff working on more than 150 sites, of which four are the hospitals and the others are community-based. In fact, 80 per cent of the Trust’s work is actually outside hospitals and in the community.

The importance of fundraising 

Fundraising is vital to keep these services going in an increasingly tough funding regime. ‘It makes a huge difference to what we can contribute,’ says Matthew. ‘There are technicalities around the way in which health is funded which has seen mental health funding have a reduction in real terms over recent years. I think that’s a real concern. 

‘At the same time, changes to welfare and social care are leading to a rise in crisis presentations to mental health services. And we have to deliver perhaps the largest transformation in health services that we have seen for a long time, in terms of this move out of the hospital, into community and closer to people’s homes.’

It will be a challenge, Matthew says, but if anyone can do it, SLaM staff can. 

‘There’s an extraordinary group of people who work in this organisation,’ he says. ‘They are incredibly committed, creative, entrepreneurial and dedicated to mental health. We have treatment teams, community mental health teams, crisis services, liaison psychiatry services and child mental health services provided in community settings. We have fantastic health projects for people who would never normally gain access to mental health services, and we are doing great work around community wellbeing. We are a part of the communities we serve.’ 

You can help SLaM provide outstanding mental health services in your community. Find out how to support our work.

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2014-09-10T09:47:00+00:00
Art of Recovery http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/art-of-recovery http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/art-of-recovery#When:10:27:00Z Thanks to funding from donors, Maudsley Hospital has recently become home to an exhibition space called the Long Gallery. Open since last autumn, the gallery is a light, airy and tranquil space which is available to those interested in exhibiting artwork.

Two staff members, Dr Richard Corrigall, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, and Valerie Hartland, Art Psychotherapist, have taken advantage of the new space for a very special reason. The Art of Recovery exhibition showcases artwork created by young people who have spent time in Snowsfields Adolescent Unit, an acute psychiatric ward for ages 12-18. Poetry, photography and artwork from projects facilitated by internal and external collaborators is on show, as well as work that has been produced in art psychotherapy sessions.

Art psychotherapy groups are held once a week and are open to all service users in Snowsfields. In the first 30 minutes the young people create their art, an opportunity to express whatever they want with no outside influence. The second half of the session offers a chance to review each other’s work collectively. Richard co-facilitates the groups and was so impressed with the work he’s seen, that the idea for the exhibition was born.

‘Art psychotherapy is not intending to teach people to be good artists, it’s not about training or giving them skills,’ he says. ‘We very much emphasise that it doesn’t matter how good or bad you are, and it’s not about technical ability, but nonetheless it does sometimes reveal obvious talent. It’s very rewarding how you can reveal someone’s ability and talent to them.’

A young person whose work features in the exhibition said:

‘The group helps you not to get lost inside your own thoughts. It’s interesting to observe how shared moods and atmospheres impacted on the art we made, and how each person changes over the course of their treatment here.’ 

Journeys of recovery

The exhibits were curated to display work that was produced at different stages of a patient’s admission on the ward - many of which clearly show a process of recovery through the artwork. Co-curators, Richard and Valerie, want the exhibition to help people understand more about mental health problems, and whilst some of the images could be construed as disturbing, they believe this will plan an important role in increasing public awareness.

‘It’s about breaking down the stigma of mental illness and saying, this is disturbing and difficult but it doesn’t mean it should be hidden away,’ says Richard.

‘It’s helping people to understand what it’s been like to go through things. Everybody knows about abuse, but to actually understand what it means for that person, how they cope with it and what happens later in their lives; this helps the public understand so they feel more of a connection to the person. That’s what the young people have really bought into when agreeing to their work being displayed. They like the idea of improving public understanding.’

As well as positively reflecting the young people’s recoveries, the exhibition (and the connections it has created) has, on occasion, opened doors for the artists. Collaborative projects with organisations such as Dulwich Picture Gallery have meant that Richard has been able to offer opportunities such as work experience, and has even helped arrange for young people to go on to art college.  

Richard has worked at Snowsfields since it opened in 1998 and has seen many art based projects throughout his time there. He says that it can be an important part of recovery for people suffering from mental illness to have creative outlets available to them, as it enables them to tell their story in their own way or to offload difficult experiences. 

Maudsley Charity and art as therapy

Maudsley Charity strongly supports art and its role in mental health recovery - particularly through its involvement with the Bethlem Art Gallery which is located at one of SLaM's sites, the Bethlem Royal Hospital. In funding the opening of the Long Gallery, the charity was keen to bring a strong and permanent art presence to Maudsley Hospital too.

‘It’s open to everyone and the ethos of the gallery space is about bringing people on to the site and inviting the public in,’ says Richard Morley, Senior Communications Officer at SLaM.

‘We want to open up the hospital and make it accessible, and I think that’s worked really well.’

Exhibitions run on a quarterly rotation and the whole of 2015 is already booked up, proving the Long Gallery to already be a popular space.

The Art of Recovery exhibition continues until 26 September. The next exhibition is Pat Mear's 'Pathways and Pebbles' which will run from 3 Oct 2014 to 5 January 2015.

Donate to SLaM and help us continue to support people with mental health problems through projects like this.

Below: in sequence, four artworks created by a service user at different stages in her recovery. 

   painting of an eye

drawing using words

multi-coloured painting

drawing of a kingfisher]]>
2014-08-22T10:27:00+00:00
Raising funds for and awareness of mental health http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/raising-funds-for-and-awareness-of-mental-health http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/raising-funds-for-and-awareness-of-mental-health#When:10:20:00Z Mental health nurse Aaron Brewer explains why he ran the Royal Parks Half Marathon last year to support South London and Maudsley.

‘I trained within SLaM when I was studying to be a registered mental health nurse at King’s College London. After I qualified last summer, I was offered a job as a nurse on Eden Ward, a psychiatric intensive care unit at Lambeth Hospital. My job involves building a therapeutic relationship with patients, engaging with and listening to them, and involving them with daily activities. 

‘On Eden Ward, we also have the 136 suite, which is a designated place of safety where, if the police have concerns about the mental health of members of the public, they can bring them under section 136 of the Mental Health Act. I really enjoy engaging with patients and seeing them get well. Every day is different and to even have a small impact on a patient’s life is very rewarding.

‘After three years of training, SLaM was close to my heart and I wanted to give something back. I also felt that mental health is a big problem and the more we can raise awareness and money to help, the better. Then a friend asked me to take part in the Royal Parks Half Marathon. I love running and find it therapeutic, so the chance to support SLaM by running around the historic sites of London was too good an opportunity to turn down.

‘On the day, the sun was shining and there were perfect running conditions. I loved every minute of the race. The highlight was feeling the support from the crowd - especially from the fundraising team. They really helped us push on, especially at the 10-mile stage where we began to feel jaded and tired. It was such a great adrenaline rush. I completed the run in 1 hour and 45 minutes, which wasn’t my personal best, but I still felt it went well. Knowing the money I had raised would be going to a good cause gave me such a sense of achievement.

‘Supporting SLaM means raising money to go towards new equipment, improving wards and research to help improve medication and therapies.

‘I have always wanted to run the London Marathon and would love to do it for SLaM in the future.’ So, watch this space!

Thanks, Aaron! You can join him by running the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon this year on 12 October. The deadline for registration is Wednesday 20 August, and places are filling up quickly, so make sure you sign up now

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2014-07-29T10:20:00+00:00
Happy Heads Festival for young people’s wellbeing http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/happy-heads-festival http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/happy-heads-festival#When:15:59:00Z Hundreds of teenagers are invited to take part in the Happy Heads festival, a unique event dedicated to improving mental health in young people. 

Reaching out

SLaM is working with Maudsley Learning, a dynamic social enterprise which supports learning in mental health and wellbeing, to bring together live music, a variety of fun workshops and advice from mental health representatives. The Happy Heads festival is able to take place thanks to donations.

Come along to the Maudsley Learning Centre (ORTUS) in Camberwell between 12 – 4pm on 26th July to experience this unique event!

Getting creative

Teenagers can learn how to DJ, take part in a creative writing workshop and find out more about photography while learning how to improve their general happiness and look after their mental health.

‘The wider long-term benefits of promoting mental wellbeing in young people, as well as the potential savings to the NHS in the future are well understood and widely acknowledged,’ says Olivia Howarth, Happy Heads Festival Coordinator at SLaM.

‘It is vital that we start engaging with the local population at an early age as this could be the next generation of mental health service users.’

Tackling teenage challenges

SLaM has been working with Young Minds, the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people.

Young Minds is currently promoting a campaign which helps identify key areas of concern for teenagers including bullying, stress and unemployment.

These issues, which are extremely common but can be difficult to discuss, will be explored through innovative workshops and creative activities led by young representatives from the charity.

Saffron Worrell is an activist for Young Minds and a UK youth parliament representative for Lewisham.

‘I have suffered from many periods of depression since the age of 13, which have left me feeling alone and confused. I think the Happy Heads festival is a brilliant idea because it promotes positive mental health in a fun and educational way which is the best way to learn about it’, she says.

To find out more about the Happy Heads festival or to register online, visit www.happy-heads.org

The first 250 teenagers to register online or on the day will be offered delicious Mexican street food.  

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2014-07-21T15:59:00+00:00
SLaM’s Bedlam series is awarded BAFTA http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/slams-bedlam-series-is-awarded-bafta http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/slams-bedlam-series-is-awarded-bafta#When:12:17:00Z The ground-breaking series Bedlam won a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) award for ‘best factual series’. The four-part documentary followed the stories of service users, their families and staff at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM). 

Bedlam was a landmark in TV broadcasting that gave viewers a real insight into the mental health system and what it is like to live with mental illness. The courage of the participants and staff in taking part in the programme is testament to the importance of Bedlam, and one of the many reasons it is deserving of this award. 

The series was competing against Educating Yorkshire, Keeping Britain Alive and The Route Masters: Running London’s Roads. The ceremony took place at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London.

SLaM’s Chief Executive Matthew Patrick says, ‘I am absolutely delighted and incredibly proud that Bedlam has won a BAFTA television award.

‘Bedlam was a pioneering series which was sensitively made and reflects the realities of living with mental illness. We took part to help raise awareness of mental illness and from the public reaction so far we have gone some way to achieving that.’

Raising the profile of mental health

Sarah Hall is Communications and Media Manager at SLaM, and she tells us about their hopes for the programme, long before there was any hint of winning a BAFTA. 

‘We hoped that Bedlam would raise awareness, draw attention to the realities of living with a mental illness and help to remove the stigma around mental health conditions, but nobody could have ever predicted the outcome. When we stood on stage receiving our BAFTA it struck me what a difference Bedlam really has made.’

Bedlam’s BAFTA win has helped raise mental health awareness, and brought the real experiences of people living with mental illness to light. The process of making the programme itself can also be regarded as a beneficial experience to several of the service users involved. 

Dominic, who was 46 when the series was broadcast, is married with two children and has a background in media. 

He had been diagnosed with depression in 2009, but this diagnosis was changed to type II bipolar affective disorder after an extreme, pseudo-manic reaction to depression medication. In the years that followed, Dominic’s condition slowly worsened. Despite being prescribed a number of drug treatments, these were unsuccessful and he made his first suicide attempt in November 2012. He survived, only to attempt suicide again in January 2013, and then again in May of that same year. After the second time, Dominic was re-diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which enabled him to receive talking therapy and led to a significant improvement in his condition. 

He was shown on the programme in Lambeth Triage ward just after trying to commit suicide. 

Dominic says, ‘Am I glad that there is a permanent, public record of the process of healing that began in the Triage Ward, and in my own home? Emphatically, yes. Am I grateful to SLaM, Paddy and Alice, The Garden and Channel 4; and everyone who watched, commented and got in touch with me as a result; and everyone who now feels that little bit more tolerant and less scared of mental illness, as a result of the film? More, much more, than I will ever be able to say.’ 

Dominic attended the SLaM post-BAFTA celebration which the communications team organised to thank all contributors to the series. 

Changing public perceptions

The award demonstrates the significant changes that may have already begun to take place within public perceptions of mental health. Social media reactions to the programme when it was broadcast demonstrate that audiences are strongly engaged with the issues presented by Bedlam, and responses were, for the vast majority of the time, extremely positive.  

Sarah says, ‘A few years ago it is unlikely that four programmes about mental health which, at times, were quite distressing, raw and incredibly sad – as well as being inspirational, compassionate and honest - would have been nominated for a BAFTA, let alone win one. It probably wouldn’t have been made in the first place.’

Matthew has some final words: 

‘I am honoured we were part of it and want to thank our staff and patients for their time, dedication and commitment to the series. Now, it appears that mental health is very much on the map and hopefully here to stay.’
 

Find out more about how you can get involved in supporting SLaM's work with mental health

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2014-07-11T12:17:00+00:00
Maudsley Learning celebrates first birthday http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/ortus-celebrates-first-birthday http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/ortus-celebrates-first-birthday#When:13:40:00Z On its first anniversary, Maudsley Learning celebrates its successes at the ORTUS and looks forward to reaching a global audience.

The ORTUS learning and events centre buzzes with activity throughout the day. Since the multi-award-winning building opened a year ago, thousands of people have come through its doors, attending courses, conferences, films, art exhibitions, authors’ talks and concerts, all with a mental health theme.

In just 12 months, Maudsley Learning has made great strides in promoting the understanding of mental health and wellbeing, fulfilling the vision set out by Kumar Jacob, former chair of the Maudsley Charity, which established and invested in the non-profit subsidiary.

To mark Maudsley Learning's first birthday, Genevieve took part in a 3km swim down the River Thames to raise money for Maudsley Charity.

‘Maudsley Charity has been very supportive of me and Maudsley Learning, and it seems fitting that to celebrate its first birthday I give something back,’ says Genevieve.

‘For me personally, it is important for me to say thank you to the charity, Kumar Jacob, Paul Mitchell and the other Trustees for their support over the past 20 months.’

The swim took place on a beautiful, sunny day in early June, when currents were so strong that organisers were forced to change the course. As well as battling the currents, she also came up against a barge and a game of swans in her path. Despite these challenges, the event went well for Genevieve and she raised more than £1,300.

‘I am very happy with my time of under an hour,’ she says. ‘The Thames water was pretty much as expected, a bit murky and a bit chilly but no ill effects the days after, although my three-year-old daughter did tell me that I smelt.’


Virtual learning in mental health

‘The ORTUS is only part of the picture,’ says Genevieve. ‘The next step is to expand our reach and impact with the launch of our digital platform, Maudsley Learning Online, which will offer open access to virtual learning.’

Based on cutting-edge social learning techniques, the platform will showcase the very best research, information and e-learning in mental health and wellbeing. Service users, carers, HR professionals and anyone interested in their own mental health will be able to share ideas and update their knowledge.

‘You will be able to search areas of interest, dip into information and scale up your learning if you want to,’ Genevieve explains. ‘Quality is important, of course, and the site will feature the world-class research underway at the Institute of Psychiatry and SLaM.’

Complementing events at the ORTUS

Genevieve believes that Maudsley Learning is launching this resource at a time when the thirst for knowledge about mental health and wellbeing is growing.

‘Since starting my job here two years ago, I’ve certainly noticed a growing public awareness of how mental health impacts on society,’ she says.

‘It’s a huge subject, so initially we'll be focusing on three important areas – the role of mental health in the workplace, mental health and young people and the connection between mental and physical health.’

She adds: ‘E-learning and social learning communities on these and other themes will complement events at the ORTUS, where people meet face to face, such as our conference on children and young people coming up this autumn.’

With her background in start-up businesses, Genevieve is relishing the opportunity to create a dynamic, innovative learning organisation that works in partnership with the highly respected SLaM and Institute of Psychiatry, world leaders in the field.

‘We are a business that needs to provide a return to the Maudsley Charity on its investment, as well as provide a vital service for society. So we’re looking for opportunities to collaborate at all levels,’ she adds. ‘It’s an exciting time as we move out of the start-up phase and become a fully functioning enterprise.’

To help us continue to fund innovations in mental health learning, please make a donation to SLaM.

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2014-07-10T13:40:00+00:00
The healing qualities of creativity http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/amanda-helps-service-users-harness-the-healing-qualities-of-creativity http://www.togetherwecan.org.uk/maudsley/news/amanda-helps-service-users-harness-the-healing-qualities-of-creativity#When:14:09:00Z Amanda Glynn volunteers at Bethlem art studio and helps service users express themselves through art.

Amanda's husband suffered a stroke in the autumn of 2012 and luckily has since made an incredible recovery, but the experience had a huge impact on Amanda.

‘It threw everything up in the air and made me evaluate my life,’ she says. ‘I thought about all the big questions: what do I want out of life?’

Amanda is a trained artist and after her husband’s illness she started to think about the healing qualities of creativity. This led her to get in touch with Isobel Mdudu, SLaM’s Volunteer Services Development Manager, and Amanda now volunteers two mornings a week in the Bethlem art studio.

The power of art and creativity

The light and airy studio is a place where service users from across SLaM can be referred. Those who drop in find volunteers like Amanda ready to help them explore the various materials available: everything from painting and drawing to printing and working in 3D. Amanda says she takes some time to find out about each service user when they first come in.

‘We talk about their art background, I give them a tour of the studio and show them some of the possibilities and then they take the lead. You never know what’s going to happen,’ she says. She loves being able to see the massive impact that time in the studio can have.

‘Some people are hesitant at first but after two hours they’re saying, “I’ll be back next week.” We talk through what they’ve created – making something gives people a sense of achievement.’

A continuing journey

As well as her regular sessions at the art studio, Amanda has also helped with some of SLaM’s one-off events, which she says have given her the opportunity to see amazing work produced by talented artists who have been service users. This has included displays at the Summer Fayre and an exhibition for World Mental Health Day. The studio has close links with the Bethlem Gallery and runs regular workshops for ex-service users who are practising artists.

Amanda says she has learnt a lot from her time volunteering and has found the experience to be really rewarding.

‘I love meeting the people – I don’t want to miss a session,’ she says. And for anyone thinking about getting involved, Amanda share this advice: ‘Just do it! It’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me.’ 


Find out more about volunteering for SLaM, or get involved by becoming a fundraising volunteer.
 

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2014-07-03T14:09:00+00:00