BIRD.org.uk: Helping young people shine their brilliance and grow their resilience.

 

chrome ball sculpture covered in yarn bombed flowers and nets.

Yarn-bombed sculpture at Newcastle, County Down. Photo my own.

Creative Mental Health

As you all know I am passionate about the power of creativity, especially music, to boost mental health and grow self esteem. So I’m doubly delighted today because, via Twitter, BIRD has appeared on my horizon.

The organisation BIRD is the brainchild of Founding Director Neil Phillimore who has brought together a unique group of creative activists who nurture young people struggling with various life issues and stresses. BIRD’s mentors take them through a process of self expression using various media, especially music, song, drama and creative writing.

The power of arts and social support for mental health is well documented, as I have found in my own research and gleaned from many others’ studies. BIRD’s work is active proof that boosts what seems to me to be an emerging sense of self-affirmation, recovery and growth for otherwise vulnerable and at risk youth. Perhaps the word I’m looking for is empowerment though I feel there’s a lot more to it- as they say so much better themselves with their name BIRD, Brilliance, Integrity, Relationship and Delight.

With schools forced to cut arts budgets and society offering little in the way of free community provision for young people to find support and encouragement, this fantastic project deserves recognition for their service to the 16-25 age group, so many of whom are overwhelmed and underserved.

A Beacon of Inspiration

I believe also that BIRD is a beacon of light in terms of what can be done in creative mental health support. They need support for their current crowdfunding appeal so they can upgrade their resources and continue their work. This project could also be a workable model for further and more widespread initiatives and is certainly one I am keeping my eye on for future inspiration.

Good luck to all you folks at BIRD and keep up the great work 🙂

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Creative Mental Health: Scotland and UK

wordle of mental health and recovery terms

The Scottish Recovery Network recently called for a complete rethink on mental health care and in particular with regard to legislation. They have argued that,

To date, Scotland’s mental health laws have been recognised as progressively rights-based compared to many others around the world. However SRN believes this respected position is threatened unless we take the opportunity to engage in a much wider review of how our national laws reflect and respond to the changing legal and policy landscape.

Scotland is becoming an increasingly rights-based, recovery oriented nation….The law needs to better reflect and progress person-centred, strengths-based policy and practice that is already taking shape in Scotland and beyond.

Recovery seeks to achieve the best personal outcomes for all – people with lived experience and practitioners – and our laws can play a guiding role in achieving this.”  [SRN 2014]

 

Creativity and Mental Health

With the emphasis shifting away from illness and diagnosis and towards a focus on positive health, strength building and recovery of well-being, it is time to push for a complete overhaul of the whole idea of mental health  ‘treatment’ and ‘care’. A more refreshing picture would entail integrated services that recognise a central role for creative activity and social support in the lives of all humans, most especially when we are stressed, alienated, cognitively overwhelmed or in an otherwise vulnerable state. Those two factors emerge clearly from many qualitative and quantitative studies of service users’ perspectives and, furthermore, are even more effective when a dedicated place or site is available in which to gather on a regular basis.

It has, in fact, been demonstrated that given enough information, support and appropriate cultural conditions, people in the throes of extreme experience can and do navigate a course towards re-instating their well-being, indeed this could be thought of as creative recovery, a form of self-actualisation. No longer is it acceptable to write off people with severe mental health issues as ‘unsuitable’ for psychotherapeutic approaches. One UK study demonstrated that Cognitive Behaviour Therapy helped fifty percent of unmedicated participants to significantly reduce their psychotic experiences.

I recently reflected here on new developments in mental health in Ireland, much of which resonates with the work and approaches taken by the Scottish Recovery Network cited here, as well as with many commentators and activists in the UK such as Dr Joanna Moncrieff and in the US through informative and radical bloggers at Beyond Meds and Mad in America.

 

Rethinking Mental Health

An upcoming book by Professor Peter Kinderman at the University of Liverpool looks and sounds very exciting and resonates with my own current publication. Keep an eye out for A Prescription for Psychiatry coming soon.

 

citation for image and info: SRN, 15th April 2014, scottishrecovery.net @ Scottish Recovery Network and @SRN_Tweet

Bedford Happy!

From her wonderful site here on WordPress, Marie-Louise Plum gives a great uplifting account of an arts for mental health project coming up in Bedford. Let’s hope this is the start of a new paradigm for mental health promotion and recovery. Look out too for my book with Palgrave Macmillan in April 2014, “Creativity and Social Support in Mental Health: Service Users’ Perspectives”, describing many more examples of the power of creative activity and social support in mental health and well-being. For now, join me in following up Marie-Louise’s fantastic leads here for more exciting work in this arena. Thanks Marie-Louise and All the best for now, Roberta 🙂

A mental health related arts project! In Bedford! Where I’m from! Ticking all the boxes here, press release below, read on folks…

Is Bedford the unhappiest place in Great Britain? The national press may think so, but Bedford Creative Arts think differently.

Bedford Happy is a project commissioned by Bedford Creative Arts. Kent artist Dan Thompson will be looking at the town, and working with local groups to find out where people are happiest – and what it is that gives them a happy buzz. A day-long artwork event will be produced celebrating Bedford’s happiness on Saturday 29th March. There will be a trail of interventions to make people a little bit happier, some special markers of happy memories and a celebration of the shops and cafes that are making people happy. “Bedford is an interesting place, full of quirky stories and interesting places, Bedford Happy is a great opportunity…

View original post 132 more words

How we can improve the mental wellbeing of young people

Anj Handa at Anj Handa Associates writes about the need to improve on the mental wellbeing of young people. I couldn’t agree more and would add a few points: I worry though that society is focusing too much on diagnosing and medicating young people and not enough on dealing with the social conditions that could have an impact on growing the positive mental health of citizens. Very interested in positive mental health promotion, especially for young people and I believe it to be bound up with strong self-esteem and a vibrant society full of opportunities for people of all abilities.

Anj Handa

Image

A shocking report published recently by The Prince’s Trust revealed that one in five young people is suffering from mental health issues. Tragically, it also highlighted that long-term unemployed 16 to 25-year-olds are twice as likely as their peers to have be on anti-depressants and believe they have nothing to live for. This number equates to around three quarters of young people.

Now, leading Mental Health charities, such as Rethink Mental Illness, the Mental Health Foundation and Sane have joined the debate, saying that not enough is being done on mental health for young people and that lives are being put at risk. They have called for more training for teachers and GPs and for awareness to be raised among parents and teenagers to be able to spot the signs.

Personally, I feel that awareness-raising is crucial, but that we also need to equip young people with the tools to…

View original post 225 more words

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