Mental Health / Well Being
I’ve always been an advocate of music benefiting the soul, but over the past few months I have seen evidence of this on every project I’ve worked on.
Over the Past three months we have been piloting a project working in a hospital school in Leicestershire, working with young people who are in residential care. The aim was to create a CD with songs on which could be used in therapy sessions and classes to relax the young people.
Ward Three is part of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and provides care for young people with mental health problems aged 12 – 18 years. The patients come from Leicester City, Leicestershire and beyond. Most young people are attending as voluntary patients. Young people are admitted to Ward Three either in a state of crisis, or when their circumstances and presentation becomes complex and an assessment is needed.
I’ve seen young people, smiling, increased communication and have heard reports of young people responding better after making music.
Here are some case studies from Ward Three
1. Peter. This young man attended two sessions. At the time of the first session it was difficult to know how much he understood of what was happening around him. He did, however, manage to join one of the education staff on the conga and tap out a rhythm. By the second session his presentation had improved. He was able to particpate in a more active way. This was a useful tool to assess his progress. We were able to feed this back to the clinical team who are always looking for evidence of recovery.
2. Laura engaged in three sessions. This experience gave her opportunities to interact with others (she often works on her own school work in class, and has a tendency to isolate herself on the Ward), and practice her social skills with supportive peers and staff to give her feedback. The Soft Touch staff have seen an improvement in the interaction with others, as well as her singing skills. She is immensely proud of the songs she has written, and has continued to do this on the Ward and on home leave, beyond the life of the group.
“They are really friendly people, Peri and Steve, they got me inspired to write songs and I never thought I’d ever do that!”
We have many other examples of young people looking forward to the sessions on Fridays. Many of these young people are struggling with suicidal ideation and for them this is the first future-orientated thinking they have done in a while. They also agreed it is helpful to engage with sensitive professionals who know little about them and their histories. The nature of our young people is such that they struggle to recognise the good in themselves at all. During the Soft Touch sessions, however, they contribute to what is undeniably a good and finished project. This makes a difference.
Ward Three’s Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr Abhay Rathore:
Dear Rosie, I am writing to support your bid for the continuation of the work done by the Soft Touch colleagues for the patients on Ward Three.
I have noticed that there is a sense of excitement about the Friday when these sessions are on and young people have been enjoying themselves thoroughly. The participation is excellent and the feedback is very positive as well.
I am very pleased with the efforts of the colleagues and that we are able to offer this alternative to young people. This has helped us in providing a much more holistic approach to care for some of the most unwell young people in the county.
A group of Gypsy Traveller Health Ambassadors have been working with Soft Touch for 6 months in 2014 to design health promotion materials for their community and for people who have limited reading abilities.
Their work has been based around healthier lifestyles and positive mental health.
Funded by a Leicestershire County Council Innovation Bursary, the ladies have produced a postcard and poster about energy drinks aimed at young people, and a photo-story leaflet about depression and more serious mental health issues.
On April 15th 2014 the group showcased their project at a special celebration event at County Hall
Park Lodge is a supported living project for young single adults.
Those who use Park Lodge have had very challenging backgrounds and have been leading chaotic life styles with associated problems which have led to them needing specialised housing and life-skills support. Many have been previously homeless and/or in care.
The year-long project started in July 2014 and will end in July 2015 and was funded by Big Lottery Awards for all Grant as a partnership between Park Lodge and Soft Touch Arts. It provides a weekly session for young people from Park Lodge to develop art and music skills and present a showcase of their work at the end of the project. It gives young people new creative, communication and life skills which broadens horizons for their future, but most importantly it builds self confidence. The project supports them to see themselves and others in a positive light and to improve their relationships with people. This is beneficial for their future so they can communicate and build strong relationships, it also enables them to work as a team and have faith in each other.
Positive impacts of the project have been achieved with the whole group but with some young people in particular. The Deputy Manager of Park Lodge commented “one young woman lacked self-confidence to the point where she would not want to get involved with anybody or anything. This young woman was very reluctant to attend group activities. Through attending the sessions she has now had support from staff both here and at Soft Touch, and blossomed into a different person. She has tried new activities and trusts people again and is now keen to participate in group activities even to the point of going on a three-night residential outdoor adventure”.
The Park Lodge group displayed their artwork at the Soft Touch Building Launch event on June 22nd 2015, along with a multimedia display of work based around the theme of “what makes me happy – what makes me sad.”
Park Lodge and Soft Touch are looking for further funding to continue this successful partnership which is making a difference to vulnerable young people’s lives.
PIK M3 UP is a magazine produced by and for young people as part of a project jointly developed and run by Soft Touch and the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS).
Young service users developed, designed and wrote the content for the magazine aimed at widening knowledge of emotional wellbeing and the services available for supporting young people. The magazine also includes a four-page survey carried out by members of the ‘Towards Positive Progression’ group, a youth action group developed by Black and Dual Heritage young people at Connexions Leicester Shire. The survey looks at whether ethnicity or religion make a difference to accessing health services.
The project was funded by Leicestershire NHS Partnership Trust: Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit
The magazine is free so please contact us if you need a copy.