Inspirational exhibition to shine a spotlight on mental health

People living with mental health problems will showcase their creativity while raising awareness of living with conditions such as psychosis, anxiety and depression at a special exhibition taking place next week.

Called ‘Action on Mental Health Awareness’, the exhibition takes place on Wednesday and Thursday (3 and 4 May) and will feature clothes designed and made by service users being cared for by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) Youth Service and Early Intervention Team. In addition, placards carrying messages about mental health will also be displayed to encourage people not to judge others by their outward appearance and to look deeper to understand what it is like to live in their skin.

As well as raising awareness of living with a mental illness, organiser Danielle Cooper, who is an Occupational Therapist, hopes it will help people to better understand the work of the central Norfolk Early Intervention Team (EIT). The service cares for people aged between 14 and 35 who are experiencing psychosis, which can mean they hear voices or see things others cannot, feel paranoid or mistrustful of others, don’t think clearly and believe it is possible to read other people’s thoughts.

The EIT, which is made up of care coordinators, support workers, therapists and doctors, focus on social recovery, which means their work includes supporting people to achieve goals they have set themselves, such as returning to work or education. They may also help service users to access any medication and therapy they may need, as well as referring them to partner agencies, such as Julian Support and the Prince’s Trust, which can help make sure their social needs, such as employment and housing, are met.

“We hope that this special exhibition will showcase the brilliant work that has been done by all involved, whilst also tackling some of stigma which still exists around mental ill health,” said Danielle. “The exhibition will show that people who living with mental health conditions are just like everyone else, and want to be seen as a person first and not simply be categorised by their mental health issue. By inviting our service users to help arrange the event and make the items which will be on display, we are also helping to build their confidence and self-belief, which is fantastic news.

“The placards carry strong messages about mental health and give statistics on the number of people affected, while some service users have used newspaper cuttings to make clothes to show how they feel society perceives them.

“The group has been meeting every week for the last year to work on the project and we’ve been really impressed by their efforts so far. We’re already looking forward to the exhibition and hope that as many people as possible come along and enjoy the displays.”

The exhibition has been arranged in partnership with the University of East Anglia’s Occupational Therapy Society and takes place at the Undercroft Gallery in Norwich’s Market Place on Wednesday 3 and Thursday 4 May between 11am and 6pm. Entry is free.