Realising the value of our approach at Creative Minds
When we heard that Creative Minds had been accepted as a local partner site for Realising the Value we were very excited to be involved in a programme that could shape national policy. Our particular part of the programme is using group work to improve health and wellbeing, which is an approach we have been developing since our launch in November 2011.
We found that time and time again, people who had made use of services were consistently saying that getting together with others to do something creative would improve their health and wellbeing. A major aim of Creative Minds was therefore to build a strong infrastructure of community and voluntary organisations able to work with the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Trust Foundation to provide creative projects for all who access our services.
A key component of Creative Minds is to define creativity in its broadest sense to take into account not only the contribution of the arts, but also sports and other recreational and leisure activities.
This broader approach has given participants greater choice that includes music, dance, poetry, but also includes football, walking, gardening and climbing.
Through projects we have developed participants have transformed their lives, redefining themselves as actors, poets, playwrights, photographers, musicians, singers, climbers, artists selling their pictures and footballers winning trophies. This transformation in people’s lives has led to local, regional and national recognition and massively challenged the stigma of mental health. The Realising the Value programme has come at a key stage in our development; it will encourage us to take stock and start to fully understand the value of our approach and some of the magic that has been created.
We believe that participating creatively as a means of self-expression helps tackle social exclusion, promotes self-acceptance and raises aspirations through allowing the individual to discover talents, skills and abilities that combat the feelings of negativity surrounding their mental health. All of these things can help people to develop feelings of pride and satisfaction, enabling them to feel worthwhile. Finding an activity that they enjoy challenges negative self-images and, where people have low expectations of themselves, the sense of achievement that can be found in creativity is unrivalled.
One participant of the rock climbing group who recently completed his instructor training said:
“I first started coming to the rock climbing group nearly two years ago; it was totally new to me. I really lacked confidence and just meeting new people was really quite difficult for me. It’s changed my whole lifestyle; I really look after my diet, so I can build my strength up. It really gives me a focus so I can really get on with stuff. I really enjoy it! It gets me out and about. I feel a lot happier when I’m out and about.”
Creative Minds is reconfiguring the future of the South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Trust Foundation’s services, changing the benchmarks through arts, sports and recreation, and redefining what it means to have effective, inexpensive, non-pharmacological, locally configured mental health services. It encourages service users and practitioners to engage for mutual benefit, provides an opportunity for people to engage as equals, and shifts the imbalance between providers and participants.
Creative Minds enables us to work in a different way for the combined benefit of people who use our services, their carers, our staff and our local communities and we consider this more of a social movement. Our approach has a recovery focus, with people retaining control over their own health and wellbeing. Being a charity hosted by the NHS reaching out to our communities puts South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Trust Foundation in a unique position and develops a strong foundation of harnessing creative potential in our communities. This has already initiated a change in culture whereby our staff can consider all aspects of people’s lives and don’t just focus on delivering specific treatments. Creative Minds fully supports the Trust mission to help people to live well in their community and reach their potential.
Having support from the Realising the Value team and the broader networks of a community of interest gives us a fantastic opportunity to develop our approach into a revolution in healthcare and we hope you will be part of it.