The centre, which will be open from June, is going to be an ecologically friendly and modern building, while having a brick-fronted, traditional feel that is in keeping with the architecture of the area.
Maudsley Learning, a community interest company that is a subsidiary of Maudsley Charity, will operate the centre. The 1,550 square-metre building will feature a mix of flexible spaces for classes, presentations, learning through simulation and other uses.
‘In terms of the meeting room spaces, we expect to have events, conferences and informal events that anybody can access. That could be service users, carers and families, academics, postgraduate trainees – anybody and everybody,’ says Genevieve Glover, Managing Director of Maudsley Learning.
Beyond serving as a venue for meetings and classes, however, the Learning Centre will also be a comfortable place for service users and their families, staff and area residents to meet and socialise.
Genevieve says Maudsley Learning is looking to host film nights in the Learning Centre and also to borrow art from the Bethlem Gallery. She is collaborating with Bethlem Gallery Curator Beth Elliott to develop a plan for exhibitions in the new building.
In addition to the ground floor café, says Genevieve, there will be a terrace on the top floor with ‘fantastic views across London’.
‘To align with the physical space of the Learning Centre, Maudsley Learning is developing a digital space so that anyone, anywhere, at anytime can access information and learning on mental health and wellbeing,’ says Genevieve.
‘We’re in conversation with our sister company, Maudsley International, because there’s real synergy with what they’re doing,’ she says.
‘Through our digital space we can create a more comprehensive approach to learning, to support any work Maudsley International is doing abroad and closer to home. An example might be Maudsley International providing on-the-ground learning and consultation abroad, followed by training events at the Learning Centre, all supported by longer-term e-learning via the virtual learning environment.’
To find out more about the new Learning Centre, please visit their website.]]>
Static trapeze involves performing acrobatic moves mid-air and requires strength, discipline and determination. Participants in the workshop have felt a strong sense of achievement from taking part in this challenging activity: ‘It’s made me feel nothing can stand in my way,’ says Amy.*
It is taught in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, and provides the opportunity to socialise and build on achievements together. It also improves the physical well-being of participants, and inspires them to make changes outside of the workshops. ‘A knock-on effect is I am taking more exercise generally and feeling much happier,’ says Laura.*
The main aim of the programme is to enable people with mental health issues to make positive steps to moving into work. By raising people’s self-esteem and enabling them to realise they can achieve amazing things, their attitude can change from ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’.
In this video, a workshop participant shares her experiences about how the workshop it's made a difference to her.
*Names have been changed
Inside, the café lives up to its strapline of ‘Create, Relate, Integrate’ by offering a calm atmosphere but with bubbling creativity. With art on the walls, nutritious and affordable food on the menu and free hand, head and foot massages offered in the ‘chill-out zone’ – a comfortable area with bean-bags and low-level lighting in front of a big projector screen – the Dragon Café creates the perfect environment for patrons to relax and be themselves.
No formal therapy is offered, and there is no pressure to participate in any of the creative activities available, but the café aims for patrons to feel better when they leave than when they arrived. The wide variety of activities on offer ranges from Tai Chi, Mindfulness and boxing to poetry readings, film workshops and open mic sessions.
‘We didn’t really expect it to take off as it did,’ says Sarah Wheeler, Creative Director of the Dragon Café and Mental Fight Club. ‘We’ve never had to cancel an activity due to lack of attendance, if anything we can get a bit too full.’
With a different creative theme each month, there are often discussions taking place in the café on the general theme of mental health, all designed to connect patrons to one another. ‘It’s about valuing the experience of mental illness. It becomes much less isolating when you talk about it and find that others can relate,’ says Sarah.
Sarah founded Mental Fight Club in 2003; a community group dedicated to creative explorations of mental illness, recovery and well-being, inspired by the film Fight Club and Ben Okri’s poem Mental Fight, among other creative influences. But it was in 2011, after she surfaced from a period of psychosis, that the idea for the Dragon Café was born. Sarah had been treated at the Maudsley Hospital and found respite in a café nearby which she found welcoming and comforting. She felt there ought to be other similar places with a creative rather than clinical atmosphere.
'We are exceptionally fortunate to have major support from Maudlsey Charity, which is truly "walking the talk" in backing an innovative, user-led creative enterprise' she says.
So far, the Dragon Café has been a hit with the local community, attracting 875 patrons in its first quarter from a wide variety of backgrounds across Southwark and Lambeth, with more than 50 per cent returning for a second visit – or more.
Rosie Dalton-Lucas, Health & Well-being Manager, NHS Southwark, speaks of the café bridging the gap between formal services and helping people to find what can enhance their well-being in the community. ‘I am very impressed by the genuine care and attention to individuals, who have been clearly benefiting from this service,’ she says.
Along with the funding, a team of around 65 volunteer patrons make the Dragon Café a sustainable project. They have been trained in mindful working ethos and help out with everything from kitchen work, stage management and sound recording to website support. Being involved helps build their confidence, and, as any of the patrons could become ill again, the team believes it’s important to have a collective way of working that isn’t dependent on any one individual.
‘The Dragon Café has given me the motivation to actually do something when I was in the midst of a deep depression,’ says volunteer Agnes. ‘It is a non-threatening and welcoming activity in which I do not feel like a mental health patient.’
The Dragon Café also offers online support as another means of connecting its patrons, in the form of Dragon Connect on its website www.dragoncafe.co.uk , offering blogs, conversation threads and podcasts.
‘We’d like to see the Dragon Café as a landmark for people finding their way, particularly when just coming out of hospital and feeling isolated,’ says Sarah. ‘Intrinsically as a space, it’s helping to overcome the stigma of mental health issues. That evaporates inside here. Through the café, we have the potential to heal and give hope.’]]>
together we can... support those in need]]>
The UK is currently witnessing an unprecedented rise in the proportion of people aged 65 years and above, who are drinking above the recommended daily and weekly limits.
In the past 10 years the number of elderly people who have been admitted to hospital with acute alcohol related problems has risen by a shocking 127%.
The number of these who have known mental health disorders is more than 10%, but due to older people's mental health services seeing just a small fraction of these admissions, this figure is in reality likely to be much higher.
There has also been an increase in the number of deaths linked to alcohol problems. This has more than doubled from 4023 in 1992 to 9031 in 2008. The highest mortality rate was men between 55 and 74.
But there is hope. Research at SLaM has found how people’s lives can be changed for the better with the support of mental health professionals.
The study, led by Dr Tony Rao, a consultant old age psychiatrist at SLaM, examined anonymised case notes for all admissions seen by older people's mental health services in South East London between 2006 and 2011. The findings showed that more than three quarters of the 108 patients with alcohol misuse had an accompanying mental disorder such as depression or alcohol related brain injury. But of the 50 patients taken on by older people's community mental health teams, nearly 40% had achieved either total abstinence from alcohol or controlled drinking at a six-month follow-up.
While the study found that there was a lack of a consistent approach to the referral of older people to community services, the main finding was a positive one. It is clear that when older people with mental health problems resulting from alcohol misuse were treated within mainstream mental health services, they had a real chance of recovery.
The importance of providing effective interventions for older people with alcohol related brain injury still remains a challenge for the NHS.
Dr Tony Rao, Visiting Researcher at the Department of Old Age Psychiatry, at King's College London's Institute of Psychiatry and Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists Working Group on Substance Misuse in Older People, said:
"The challenge of rising numbers in hospital admissions for older people with alcohol misuse remains very real and needs a coordinated approach to identification, referral, specialist treatment and aftercare. This requires a number of different services working together.
"By equipping mainstream older people's mental health services with specialist skills, it is more likely that older people with alcohol misuse will show positive outcomes in their health and social function and reduces the risk of this group being caught between services."
The study highlights how important it is for older people to be referred to the services that can help them.
"The numbers of older patients on hospital wards with alcohol misuse being seen by mental health services is still only a small fraction of those who may need to be seen.
"More elderly people with mental health problems relating to alcohol need to be referred and when they are there is a strong chance they will improve in mainstream community mental health teams."
The report has been backed up by the UK's leading alcohol misuse agency, Alcohol Concern, who have called for the issue of elderly people drinking heavily to be taken more seriously.
Eric Appleby, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern, said:
"It's really worrying to see increasing numbers of older people seeking help for mental health problems caused by alcohol misuse.
"With an ageing population this has huge implications for the whole of society and we have to start taking it seriously.
"This research shows just how important it is to have effective joined up working and the right services in place to make sure older people don't suffer alone."
together we can... support those in need
Read more information from Alcohol Concern
If you'd like to help fund research like this, you can donate online to SLaM.
It's a bit early for a Christmas thank you note, but the season always reminds us that it's important to be grateful for all we've received.
Thank you so much for your support.
The South London and Maudsley fundraising team
NHS Heroes is a national campaign, which asks patients and colleagues to nominate those who go "above and beyond".
26 SLaM staff members received nominations for their caring, compassionate and hard work.
A presentation was held at Lambeth Hospital to honour those who had been nominated. Acting Chief Executive Gus Heafield said: "It is a great occasion to recognise the amazing work that staff members do at SLaM and to hear about some very exceptional people. It is very special because these awards are from patients and colleagues who recognise the further work these people do."
Dr Amita Jassi, Clinical Behaviour Therapist
Amita was nominated by a patient that has OCD. Amita was always available to call even when the patient didn't have an appointment. Amita also helped this patient to participant in a programme on OCD to raise awareness about the condition. Amita, your patient said that he had the highest quality of treatment that he could experience.
Dr Clive Timehin, Consultant Psychiatrist
Clive was nominated by a patient who said: "In over ten years as a mental health patient I have never been treated by a professional who so obviously cares about me, wants the best for me, listens to me, treats me as a grown up and works with me to keep me as well as possible. I credit him with me being alive today as I'm not sure I'd have made it through the last few years without him. He is a star."
Lesley Stephenson, Psychiatric Nurse
A patient nominated Lesley and she wrote: “Lesley has supported me for the best part of a decade and kept me from hospital admissions. She is funny and understanding and has a fondness for purple and flip flops in winter. All that you need in a psychiatric nurse.”
To see the rest of the nominees, and the reasons for their nominations, visit www.facebook.com/slamnhs.
Images © 2012 Philip Durrant Photography]]>
I think humour is a good way of breaking the ice with any group of people and also something that we can all share. It also diffuses tension and releases endorphins.....so yes!
Several reasons. Firstly, when I was a kid, my mum worked in a psychiatric hospital and we used to go there regularly to play badminton. I always felt comfortable and not scared, which some people do. Secondly, my dad had suffered from depression for many years and so I suppose that was a contributing factor. And thirdly, I like people and I was interested in a job in which I could feel I could make a positive contribution to people's lives.
As I was in a 24-hour emergency clinic. I suppose dealing with people who were at the end of their tether could be very difficult at times and when people are desperate they tend to behave in unpredictable ways, so there was some violence and abuse at times. I also found it incredibly sad too, sometimes. The rewarding bits were the times when I felt that I'd done something to make someone's life better whether it was arranging admission, doing some counselling or making them a cup of tea.
I was inspired by people who came from very damaged backgrounds yet still managed to hang on to some humanity despite the huge struggles they faced. The nurses who inspired me were the down-to-earth staff who had huge dollops of common sense, a brilliant sense of humour, unending kindness and an ability to deal with very tense situations.
I learned it's important to treat everyone the same and with respect, even when you don't get it back. In stand-up, the lesson that it's important to look calm, even when you're not, was very useful.
I suppose it's important to treat people the same as usual, to actually ask them how they would like you to be and to be aware that there isn't really a manual, you just need to care about them and not behave weirdly round them!
I would make sure people were better educated about mental health issues, have a person with mental health issues on every decision making legal/parliamentary panel and provide more supportive housing and a better support system generally.
As an ex-Maudsley employee, I am very fond of the place, so it wasn't a difficult decision to make.
SLAM offers essential services to people living in a deprived area of London and who have more than their fair share of mental health difficulties.
together we can... change perceptions of mental illness
Chair of Maudsley Charity, Kumar Jacobs said ‘Thank you to all of those that attended Comedy Slam at the Southbank last week, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. It was a fantastic evening of laughter, and awareness raising of the integral role we all play in providing the best of mental healthcare services and research.
‘This was really a key event for us as we start to build fundraising and support further into all we do, I can’t thank everyone enough, from the Comedians who gave their time so generously to the many first time supporters of Maudsley Charity, who enjoyed the evening and would like to receive more information from us to those who made text donations.
‘This is the beginning of something very special for Maudsley Charity and the added value we can bring to many, including through the many fantastic services and research that South London and Maudsley provide, I hope you will join us in that.'
Photographs © Jane Hobson, 2012]]>
‘This was a great way to raise money for our charities,’ says Simon, Director of the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre for Mental Health. ‘This was an opportunity for us to give something back.’
Beginning at Crystal Palace in South London at 11 pm on Saturday 9 June, the Nightrider course took riders past dozens of iconic London landmarks, including Tower Bridge, St Paul’s, Alexandra Palace, Regent’s Park, the Houses of Parliament and Battersea Power Station, before concluding back in south London.
The efforts of Simon and his team raised over £3,000 for South London and Maudsley.
‘I was really proud to ride alongside a superb team of researchers and some of their partners on the Nightrider event which was exhausting, exhilarating and rewarding in about equal measure,’ says Simon.
‘Exhausting for obvious reasons – 100 kilometres is a long way and the ride up the hill to Crystal Palace at the end of the night was a lot harder than the ride down at the beginning!
Exhilarating when we sped around Canary Wharf, empty of suits and traffic, when we were cheered by taxi drivers and passing party-goers in the small hours and most of all when we crossed the river as dawn broke.
Rewarding because we knew we were doing this for the Maudsley Charity and their fantastic support for dementia research. It was a fantastic night and the team are now in training for next year!’
together we can... make a difference]]>