Private Scans and Our Mental Health

Diagnoses of conditions can often lead to Mental Health issues – is there a solution to the problem?

Our NHS is one of the biggest employers in the world, rivalling the likes of McDonald’s and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Employing over 1.5 million people in the UK, the statistics on the sheer scale of the operation is enough to boggle the mind. Despite hiring over 150,000 doctors and over 300,000 nurses, the NHS still manages to deal with over a million patients in a 36 hour period – a truly staggering number that only belies how hard these men and women work every single day of the year.

In recent years though, the NHS has come under criticism for not dealing with its patients thoroughly enough. One of the most common complaints that are levelled at the system is a lack of engagement with the mental effects of a diagnosis. Each person is different, with varying emotions and memory associations with illnesses – as a result, it is virtually impossible to plan for every mental outcome. Regardless of the number of Mental Health workers that we have at our disposal, helping those who have been psychologically affected by a diagnosis can often be difficult due to their own social anxieties or misgivings about the intentions of others.

A diagnosis of any illness, from a harmless mole to a more serious condition such as cancer, can lead to the patient developing mental health issues. In the case of the more severe diagnoses, those suffering may well feel incapable of sharing the news of their new condition with others. Life-threatening illnesses can be especially difficult to communicate with others as patients can often feel that they will be drawing unnecessary attention to themselves, this can often lead to cases of isolation and depression.

It may be that those who pay for private treatment are offered a more comprehensive form of after-care, which helps to cover any physical or psychological affects that a diagnosis, test or operation can have on a patient. For example, patients who undergo private MRI scans in Manchester or Liverpool might well benefit from a more in-depth discussion of their health options and mental stability than a patient who is admitted into a busy, publicly funded institution, such as the Royal London Hospital.

Despite the discrepancies that currently divide those with either the insurance or the money to fund their own healthcare and those who must wait in the NHS, it’s more than likely that thousands of individuals are diagnosed each year and struggle afterwards with some form of Mental Health issue. So how do we move forward and find a way to reach out to these people, from vastly different social backgrounds, who have become isolated by their health conditions?

We at Open-Art believe that clear and open communication is one of the most important components to good Mental Health, but often it can be hard for people to achieve this. Through the use of group-based arts activities, we hope to give our clients the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings – giving them an avenue of expression that should act as a gateway to a more transparent discussion of their diagnoses.

With some more help from volunteer practitioners, we hope to engage more isolated individuals in arts based group activities.

3 Creative Charities You Should Pay Attention To

In 19th Century England, the nature of philanthropy was very different to how we understand it today.

Famed writer Charles Dickens was known for depicting philanthropists in many of his most celebrated novels.

Living in a time when poverty in England was at it’s worst, Dickens witnessed the rise of philanthrocapitalism, a trend which took polite Victorian society by storm and led to the creation of such diverse characters as the generous Mr. Brownlow from Oliver Twist and the rather selfish Mrs. Pardiggle and Mrs. Jellyby from Bleak House.

Since the pride fuelled days of the Victorian age, the way that we view charitable works has changed. Charity has become less about elevating our own standards in society and more focused on inclusivity and open communication – two tenets that we take very seriously here at Open-Art.

These three revolutionary charities are putting creativity at their core to amazing results:

Hospital Rooms

Co-founded by London based artist, Tim A Shaw and arts curator, Niamh White, Hospital Rooms is a mental health charity that believes in the considerable strength of the arts to instil people with a sense of dignity and wellbeing. Their aim is remove the barriers between culture and art for people who are using mental health services.

Using their contacts with ‘museum quality’ artists in London, the charity collaborates with users of mental services, psychiatrists, health professionals and researchers to create environments that inspire the people within them, encourage discussion and improve self-esteem. Their work so far includes a complete redesign and renovation of a Recovery College at Springfield University College – a project that has helped students deal with issues such as dementia, eating disorders and schizophrenia.

Creativity Works

Based in Bath, Creativity Works’ role in the local community is really all in it’s name. They believe, similarly to us, that the process of taking part in creative activities is key in helping people to develop, explore and grow as people. In addition to offering training courses for established, socially engaged artists, they also offer opportunities for residents residing within the local area to get involved with diverse corners of the art world, including textiles, photography and writing.

Creativity Works are unparalleled in their approach to inclusivity. They seek to work with people experiencing a vast range of mental health problems, families with complex needs, elderly people who are in care, as well those that are isolated from their communities. By bringing these people together in a safe space with an activity that they can all take part in, they hope to bridge the gaps between these disparate groups.

Plymouth Music Zone

There are few Music based UK charities that are as well respected as Plymouth Music Zone. Thanks to years of support from the local council, as well as many kind donations, their practitioners now deliver up to 60 music activities in the Plymouth area a week, reaching as many as 1000 people. Targeting marginalised individuals and those living in isolated social conditions, the charity aims to reduce loneliness by connecting people through regular music sessions.

One of their most successful projects is the ‘Keep Singin, Keepsake Project’ a multi-generational program aimed at supporting older people who are at risk of loneliness. Between 2012 and 2015, a pilot study was completed on the project, revealing an improvement in mental well being as a result of regular collaborative music sessions and socialising.

Open-Art hopes to create similar opportunities, allowing those with artistic ambitions to pursue their goals, regardless of their social situations or mental health status.