Expand Your World

Stigma remains a block to those with mental health issues moving on in life – that was the findings from a series of innovative workshops entitled ‘Expand Your World’, which resulted in report below.

“Stigma is still out there and people can experience a strong negative impact by internalising society’s misconceptions about mental health,” says Mark Bertram, Manager at Vocational Services (South London & Maudsley NHS Trust, SLaM), which led on this co-designed endeavour with service users and offered via SLaM’s Recovery College.

“In a safe space people can find their own way forward , by working with their experience, connecting and sharing with others and trying out enjoyable activity,”

And that’s what the initial five-week programme, in Vocational Services’ safe space at Beale House (Stockwell) aimed to do… first by listening and validating people’s struggles and negative experiences and then exploring solutions generated by the group. Such was the success of last year’s summer workshop series that a second took place in autumn.

The workshops, pre lockdown, worked well because practically the group room space ‘felt safe, airy, warm and comfortable’, with room for 15 people.

In developing the workshops three service users were paid to be designers, and facilitators.

The project grew from the seminal ‘From Surviving to Thriving’ workshops (a title which has inspired other Lambeth ventures – see report below). That report concluded that people needed a way to explore how to achieve and take their goals forward.

You can also see below how facilitator Michelle Mcnary …had previously used her film-making skills to capture the five ways of wellbeing , which was used in the training .

The second workshop series was full and participation was high. “We all learned a great deal about how to begin the process of finding your own way forward, and helped each other mutually, with insight and practical tips, “ says facilitator David Bradford who has also been involved with Lambeth & Southwark Mind’s successful information line and directory. He along with others helped to develop the community opportunities information network (COIN) where, before lockdown, people could drop in and get accurate information about what is out there to support social inclusion.

“What Expand Your World helps people to recognise is that with the right support around you, you can find your own way forward,” says Mark Bertram.

Read Expand Your World report here

Read from

And below the link to Michelle Mcnary’s film on the 5 ways to wellbeing.

This film was made as a collaboration between the Social inclusion Hope and Recovery Project (SHARP) and Michelle, film maker and mental health service user.

In 2008 the New Economic Foundation (Nef) published five main ways to wellbeing: to connect, be active, take notice, keep learning and give. These are aimed at improving the mental health and wellbeing for all. The foundation reinforced the value of the 5 ways at the beginning of the lockdown .

Karen Hooper

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