The magazine provides adults with mental health issues a platform to express their creativity through writing, art and design, and is supported by generous donations.
‘CoolFruit gives people with mental health issues a voice; they need to be heard a lot more about what’s happening to them,’ says Annie Spinster, Coordinator of CoolFruit.
‘There’s an amazing amount of talent in the group and it’s lovely watching people’s skills develop and seeing how excited everybody is when their work is featured. Contributors feel proud to be able to show their family and friends what they’re doing and be treated seriously as artists.’
The fourth issue of the magazine is now available to read online. The December issue reflects the themes of the festive season together with items about important social issues. It features poetry, recipes and artwork, as well as articles on diverse subjects such as self-advocacy, Seasonal Affective Disorder and the history of the umbrella.
Working on the magazine provides contributors with an opportunity to improve their writing, research or design skills, as well as develop a portfolio of work for those who are preparing for college or employment.
‘It gives them confidence and they get to meet new people within a supportive environment,’ says Annie. ‘Our volunteers have told us that it’s a lot easier to share their experiences than it has been in other settings – and we’re good at going at people’s own paces.
‘Over half the volunteers who have worked on and since moved on from the project have actually gone on to work or college, so that is something we’re doing quite well.’
The online format with unrestricted space encourages a wide range of content, so CoolFruit run an open submissions policy for anyone within CoolTan Arts who wishes to participate.
Hattie is a volunteer at CoolTan Arts and has been working on the CoolFruit team as a writer since early 2014. She says there are a number of elements she enjoys, such as the supportive group environment.
‘It’s a good thing to have structure in my week and allows me to meet up with people that have a common goal: producing the magazine. I try and write about things that I wish I had known and would have found helpful. It feels like we’re doing something that not only helps us, but helps other people.’
Read the December issue of CoolFruit.
You can help support projects like this - make a donation to SLaM today.]]>
Part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Clinical and Academic Group, Carelink is a mental health and therapeutic service in Southwark for children in foster care and their carers. It offers support to young people up to the age of 18 who may be going through emotional distress or behavioural difficulties, often as a result of challenging early life experiences that resulted in them going 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 child's development.’
Ella, who has worked at SLaM since June 2014, was inspired to fundraise by one particular young service user with learning difficulties and her interaction with Carelink’s resources.
‘She was due to transition from foster care to adoption,’ explains Ella. ‘We were using two dolls’ houses to try and help her think about where she was now and where she was going and to allow her to begin to express her feelings around the move. The girl looked at the dolls’ house that represented her new home and began to inspect it closely, looking at the various bits of furniture, which were all quite worn and worse for wear due to repeated use. It was as if she questioned whether she would like to move into this old, shabby house.
‘This experience led me to think that raising money for more resources such as new dolls’ houses, furniture and art materials would help our work with children who were very much in need of support.’
The Royal Parks Half Marathon starts and finishes in Hyde Park, following a course through four of the capital’s magnificent Royal Parks and past its most iconic landmarks. The weather on the day was fine, allowing the 16,000 runners to complete the picturesque route in bright autumnal sunshine, all cheered on by around 50,000 spectators.
Ella finished in an impressive 1 hour 57 minutes, and smashed her £400 target by raising over £525 for Carelink.
'The atmosphere carried me along and I was thrilled with my time,' she says. 'Walking up and down the stairs was sore for a while afterwards! But all my friends and family’s support and donations have made it well worth it. There’s great work being done at SLaM and it feels good to be able to support that.’
If you were inspired by this story, find out how you can take part in an event for SLaM.]]>
Ten talented graduates are receiving financial support from a new scholarship scheme so that they can study on postgraduate mental health courses at the prestigious Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN, formerly known as the Institute of Psychiatry), which is part of King’s College London.
Funding for the King’s Access to the Professions Scholarship scheme comes from HEFCE (the government’s higher education funding body) and from Maudsley Charity, which is working in partnership with the IoPPN and Maudsley Learning to run the project.
‘We are aiming to encourage under-represented groups to enter the profession,’ says Genevieve Glover, Maudsley Learning’s Managing Director. ‘Winning a scholarship at the world-renowned institute is a great opportunity for people who may not normally be able to fund postgraduate study.’
This summer, Maudsley Learning helped the IoPPN to promote the scheme and to draw up a shortlist of scholarship candidates for recruitment into postgraduate courses that cover a wide range of subjects such as child and adolescent mental health, family therapy, dementia, addiction and neuro-imaging.
‘We have used our networks in mental health, our fantastic venue and our social media to complement the IoPPN’s promotion of the scheme and attract students from a broader section of society,’ says Genevieve. ‘We’ve been delighted with the academic qualifications and talents of the people who have applied.’
To prepare them for the year ahead, the successful scholars took part in a week-long summer school at the ORTUS learning and events centre, produced with the IoPPN and hosted by Maudsley Learning.
Maudsley Learning will help arrange suitable internships to ensure scholars gain hands-on experience in a variety of settings, something that will be of great value as they navigate towards possible careers in mental health services.
As the scheme is a pilot with funding for one year, the team involved in the project will monitor the scholars’ progress to provide evidence of its success in encouraging a wider cross-section of people to enter mental health professions.
‘This sort of collaboration is exactly what Maudsley Learning is here for,’ says Genevieve. ‘With our strong social agenda and impressive network of partnerships, we can help the IoPPN to reach out to new audiences and open doors to people who may have struggled to afford postgraduate study.'
Your support can help fund students to continue their studies in vital areas of mental health.
Find out more about the scholarships.]]>
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.]]>
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.]]>
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.]]>
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.]]>
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.
‘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!]]>
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!
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.]]>