Thanks for stopping by at another carer blog post. I thought to quickly drum up a page on my latest visit to the Bethlem’s Museum of the mind. I was excited to be part of their new exhibition “Impatient! Stories of Service User Advocacy”.
The exhibition which is over at the Bethlem Museum just inside the Bethlem Royal Hospital, celebrates the history of Service User advocacy. There is history on how the groups and organisations projected their causes and how they relate to psychiatry. I felt that sometimes when it comes to NHS exhibitions they tend to promote much of what has taken place in the hospitals, but showing what the community or inpatients have done, can give more of a holistic picture.
I was privileged to be shown how so many advocacy groups helped in their own cause from Dragon Cafe over in Southwark, to CoolTan Arts which was based also in Southwark. It was great to see Michelle Barrier’s work who was the CEO of cooltan sometime ago. We also had contributions from HearUs Croydon, speak out against psychiatry, Service User Involvement in Training and Education, Dolly Sen and many more.
On that Saturday when the exhibition first opened to the public, I wandered around the Bethlem Gallery to see many of the exhibits and reflected on how those advocacy groups have made a difference to patients lives. Also on the day was a talk from Nathan Filer author of the books The Shock of the Fall.
Nathan was there to talk about his new book The HeartLand, which from his website is a collection of personal stories and essays about madness and its meanings. His talk was on how he used to work in a hospital, which led him to become more involved in mental health nursing. Many of the questions from the audience were challenging and well thought out.
You can find out more about Nathan Filer from his website
I then visited the rest of he museum which had an impressive display of the history of the Maudsley and about Bedlem. I event visited the boardroom. which showed the picture of Queen Mary who visited one of the wards around 1930. Queen Mary eventually became the President of Bethlem.
You can find out more about the boardroom in the museum below.
The rest of the day I spent going through the sections and displays from advocacy groups, I am sorry if I missed any since there was so many. As mentioned, I feel that patients can have a very difficult time getting their voice heard. Even when unwell, it is so important that some have the strength to form a group or network and try to have that voice. There are problems with psychology and psychiatry, especially with medications and policies from the government. Some of those things are just a small reason why the service user advocacy groups have formed and need to stay in place.
Some groups help to support the mental health system, while others are against. Some advocacy groups help to untangle the maze of the mental health system, while other advocacy groups work towards creativity and expression. The history of advocacy groups is very rich and I feel this is just a start of the celebration of service user voices and protests.
I was also glad to chip into the exhibition due to my involvement with Service User Involvement In Training and Education (SUITE), basically SUITE allows patients and unpaid carers to have the power to be involved in training NHS staff, develop courses and educate others on their experiences. The Museum kindly took my views and included me along with other members of SUITE in a video exhibition.
I have also noticed that on the day, some NHS staff from South London and Maudsley took time off their weekend to visit the exhibition including the Chief Operating Officer.
I would like to thank the organisers and the Bethlem Museum and Bethlem Gallery for including service users and carers in the rich history of mental health.
The exhibition runs from 7 September 2019 to the 4 January 2020
Thanks for stopping by.