On 11th December the Arts and Minds Network celebrated the idea that creativity can be a light in the darkness. It was a winter (not Christmas) celebration with a twist. Yes, there were mince pies, but we also had the chance to turn our hand to creative writing, with the expert guidance of Linda Lewis. Continue reading
Here’s a question: Can the use of digital technology including: social media, digital applications and digital interaction help to keep us well and be used to improve mental health services? Plenty of people think the answer is yes.
Digital technology is our latest tool – are we officially in the digital era? We now use it in so many ways; to communicate, to discuss our problems, to be creative, to be political, to advertise, to run businesses, to track progress, to share files – and the list goes on. Many of use platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Skype in our daily lives.
So how do we use it to do good? How do we harness its power and potentiality to aid us in improving Mental Health Services? To help us as individuals to keep well?
In November I was invited to a day of conversations on this very topic. The day was organised by Victoria Betton who writes about it in her blog – Co-Producing Digital Mental Health.
Here’s a snippet of the conversations:
Using digital technology as a safety net to fill in the gaps – I chose this conversation title as I felt that there were gaps in services. It drew interest from people including a woman from Age UK. She talked about the problem of Isolation for older people, she was involved in a project which helped older people to connect to each other by using digital tablets. A Student Welfare Officer talked about how disrupting the summer holiday gap is for students who attend support groups/therapy in term time. Could digital technology provide a solution during this gap?
Could it be used to disrupt mental health services in order to provide a better experience for users of the services? Could it also be used to provide preventative support to people? We also talked about the therapeutic value of creativity, is it a human need which we often neglect in our society? Could digital help us to express ourselves through a different medium than language? Could it help us flourish?
Do you have any ideas? Do you use any applications which you use to maintain your mental health or physical health? Do you find using digital technology empowering? Has it helped you in any way? What are your thoughts? Negative or Positive? We’d love to hear them.
There were many more conversations throughout the day. If you are on Twitter and would like to know more about the day see #DigitalMH13
If you are a designer or a developer and have a passion for improving mental health services and would like to get involved please see #digihealthlab
The Tetley is a new Contemporary Art Gallery which is housed in the old site of the Tetley Brewery – and it’s open NOW! Yes – It’s the launch this weekend and there are some fabulous events listed. A few weeks ago I was invited to a preview arranged by the cities blogging guru’s The Culture Vultures.
I arrived on a dark and wet November evening to meet fellow bloggers and tweeters who I had never met before. We were ushered out of the cold and into an modern shiny bar area and offered a glass of wine as we waited for the rest of the bloggers to arrive – a nice welcome. Meanwhile the staff were busily getting ready for an event later that evening and the grand opening which is this weekend. There was definitely an exciting feel in the air. Ladders were propped against an unfinished wall and I got the sense there was still a lot to do before this weekend’s opening.
We were divided into groups for our tour of the site. The architect who was responsible for the impressive transformation led our group – which was fantastic. We started downstairs and checked out the restaurant area, which looked impressive and atmospheric. It had retained the style of the workers canteen with low lighting, big chunky institutional radiators and functional looking salt and pepper pots placed on the table. (Can’t wait to try the food!)
The Tetley isn’t a listed building which surprised me. The architects however took this into consideration and ensured that they protected the original features as much as possible. In fact the old Art Deco lift was still functioning. (Although it won’t be in use.)
The stairs were open and there was a huge excavated space behind them which the architect described as a canvas wall. This open space was the main architectural project and everything else he described as a restoration project. I have to say I loved the open space and the contrast it gave to the smaller rooms.
Surrounding the canvas wall was a gallery of little rooms. ‘It’s no Barbara Hepworth Wakefield,’ the architect informed us. They had decided against the sterile – It was designed to be conducive to creativity. The rooms had original features left in place such as fire places, wood panel walls with wooden draws and old windows which were not repainted. It made me feel like I wanted to play – there was something about the lack of sterility that made me feel much more connected to the building, the history seemed more apparent along with a sense of people who had been here before.
Oh and the Art – What kind of Art is to be shown? I was told contemporary, experimental – cutting edge. It certainly has a creative feel and is inviting. To find out visit The Tetley.
The Tetley is open …..NOW.
Thank you to The Culture Vultures, The Tetley, and The Architect.
Friday 29th November, Inkwell,6.30 for 7.30pm
The picture of an old manual typewriter, the sort my father used, and on which I made rudimentary attempts to learn typing, was a clue for one of Inkwells recent, FREE Secret Cinema events, perhaps it was this clue which made me skim over others,…..a claymation?…wasn’t sure what that was, but the promise of black comedy, an in-house produced animation, and a tongue -in -cheek vintage ad pastiche….lured me there.
The mystery movie on this occasion turned out to be….’Mary and Max’, it covered many mental health related themes, alcoholism, loneliness, diagnosis, attempted suicide, etc…..so why did we the audience find it so amusing? perhaps it was Max and Mary’s idiosyncratic advice to each other, the droll way Max is brutally honest with himself and others, his matter of fact acceptance of the way things were for him, Max’s ‘symptoms’ often got him in a lot of trouble, he found it hard to understand the non-verbal cues in everyday interaction with others, diagnosed with Aspergers, he embraced this diagnosis, and with help he learned to better ‘read’ people, smile more, and remove himself from a situation where someone took advantage of his foibles.
Mary’s unique and dogged creativity in keeping on, despite the catalog of things she experiences and observes, was heart-warming, as was the innovative gifts she sends Max, – her own bottled tears on one occasion when Max reveals his desire to cry ‘properly’, their story apparently based on a true one, sees their friendship span a twenty year period, those years are not without times of misunderstanding and withdrawal between them, the film demonstrates both the negative and positive impact of that.
I rather liked the practical, sometimes amusing advice of Max’s zany psychiatrist, we see him perform handstands on his office desk while advising Max, ‘never eat anything bigger than your head’, ….seemed sensible to me! as did, ‘accept yourself warts and all’, however I’d have to disagree with his advice about Max ditching his imaginary friend Mr Ravioli , apparently so did Ravioli who decided to stay anyway, quietly reading self-help books like ‘I’m ok, you’re ok’, until such time as he takes some of the books advice, and slinks surreptitiously out of the window of the high rise Manhattan apartment, ……so much for Berne,… a person who appeared to like playing games, drawing circles and figuring out what to say after saying hello?!
That old cliché ‘hardly a dry eye in the house’ was pretty close to the truth, as the audience were moved to tears of both laughter and sadness at the unfolding story, the film was so well crafted it was easy to forget you were watching clay figures. Claymation is not a genre I’ve previously been drawn to, but I appreciate the painstaking skill, work and eye for detail that goes into its production, this film involved shooting more than 250,000 frames of which 125,000 were used in the final 90-minute feature, for someone like myself who struggles with much simpler techniques of multimedia, that’s mind-blowing.
Interestingly the often common reserve many face when sharing public spaces with strangers, was broken when the audience dared to show how touched they were, getting out their figurative hankies, commiserating with each other at the films bitter/sweet moments, sharing collective feeling, …..some scenes were very disturbing, was it a happy ending? …..hope you get to watch and find out.
I’m pleased I took the mystery trip and will be looking to watch it again.
Thanks to Inkwell for investing time to keep this kind of free activity going and for the innovative work in producing their own animations, ….their vintage footage gave me an idea what to buy for one special person at Xmas!……007? ….. ssh it’s a secret!
Here is a clue for this Friday’s screening
‘title was changed to a very famous Led Zeppelin song’ …..
follow @inkwellarts on Twitter for more hints.
*Cartoon customised on Bitstrip app.
Barry Ewart recently wrote on Leeds Wellbeing Web about Leeds Men’s Health Network. He sent us a follow up about the 16 days of action around the “White Ribbon” campaigh which highlights issues around domestic abuse. Barry writes:
“LMHN CALLS FOR ZERO TOLERANCE OF ALL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.”
Leeds Men’s Health Network (LMHN) is supporting this year’s White Ribbon Campaign and its 16 days of action around 25/11/13. The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) aims to get men to address issues of domestic violence against women. See www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk
- In Leeds we will have a WRC city-centre walk on Monday the 25th of November which will leave the WRC Tree in Park Square at 11.00 am and will finish at Leeds Metropolitan University, City Campus, Leeds LS2 at 11.45 am and we have invited Chris Chittell from Emmerdale Farm to join us on the walk. At 12.00 in Room PD210 (for those who wish to stay) there will be a talk hosted by The National Centre for Men’s Health on, ‘Men in Sheds – valuing the human potential of older men’ by Will Gore from The Groundwork Trust.
- LMHN is also encouraging children’s centres, schools, libraries and voluntary groups in the city to do something for the action days and this could be simply wrapping a tree with white ribbons.
- LMHN recognises that most domestic violence is by men against women and needs addressing.
- LMHN also recognises that domestic violence against men is a problem that needs addressing.
- LMHN further recognises that domestic violence is also an issue in same sex partnerships and this too also needs addressing.
- LMHN believes that we should have a zero tolerance of all forms of domestic abuse whoever is the perpetrator.
Since domestic violence homicide reviews were introduced two years ago they have shown that eleven women were killed in Leeds alone.
- Female victims – Leeds Domestic Violence Helpline 0113 246 0401
- Same Sex Partnerships – Broken Rainbow 0300 999 5428
- Male victims – Men’s Advice Line www.menshealthadviceline.org.uk/ 0808 801 0327
- Respect Helpline for Perpetrators 0808 802 4040
Leeds Men’s Health Network Contacts:
Chair: Claude Hendrickson E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. 07831 480 196 (Mobile) 0113 262 2270 (Office)
Secretary: Barry Ewart E Mail: email@example.com Tel. 0113 343 4358 (Office)
Treasurer: Richard Lancaster E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel. 07931 659 434 (Mobile) 0113 276 2720 (Office)
There’s now a feeling of preparation as shops focus, we’re all aware, on “next month”.
We gradually realise what our own preferred time of year is. Is it Spring? When that winter coat evaporates with the year’s first sunbeam? Perhaps you look forward to Summer, when the sun pays a warm visit that never outstays its welcome. Is it Autumn that finds you out and about, the first time in the year that you’re wearing plenty? Or Winter, when the only advisable thing to do is “keep warm”.
Whatever your own thoughts, I’d like to make the case for why this time of year (Autumn) is something to value. Indeed, once September passes Autumn days are broad with possibility.
Nothing is now ‘urgent’ as the day never wilts. It remains a pleasant “neutral”. I’ve also noticed the significance of the notable and awakening nights, as foxes roam at half past four.
The epoch and change from the stand-still feeling which was heralded effortlessly by July, as Autumn swoops by with speedy activity. Indeed perhaps you’re running for shelter when out in heavy showers, or working to an indoor-itinerary, “busy” is often the word. Of course, It’s certainly true that there are (at the last count) 7 billion Autumns a year.
Then there’s the comfort when feet are in front of the fire, and that television or radio programme which finally emerges from somewhere in the dales come on. The only thing more relaxing than this, is perhaps watching it in a woolly sweater and holding that cup of flavoured tea as the curtains are closed in time for half-past seven, yet the bus drivers are still making their way.