A mental health comic producer is among the several Southwark community projects benefitting from a massive £250,000 investment by the Maudsley Charity.
The charity, which supports the work of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and King’s College London, last week announced over a quarter of a million pounds in funding for ten community mental health projects in Croydon, Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark.
Some of the community projects use sport to promote the physical and mental wellbeing of South Londoners, while others use the creative arts.
Alice Casey, Director of Programmes at Maudsley Charity said: “At the heart of our decision making was the need to ensure the projects reflect our diverse local communities, so equality and inclusion were essential factors in our deliberations.
“We involved a range of people in selecting projects for funding; including those with lived experience of mental illness, clinicians and academic experts. We believe that this diversity of experience helps us make better decisions.
“This year we are proud to be able to support a wide range of projects working both in hospital and in the community to assist those experiencing serious mental illness. Sports and arts are well represented and we know people really benefit from these types of activities, as well as some of the more traditional therapeutic approaches.”
One such project helping youth mental health in a unique way is the ‘Creative communities: peer-designed digital comics’ project, based in Southwark and Lambeth.
This project aims to help young people talk about serious mental health issues that would otherwise prove difficult to discuss and prevent.
These include mental health issues like self-harm which are associated with significant stigma, are often hidden by young people, and can prove difficult for individual families, social care, mental health or education services to try to help.
Working with award-winning social issue comics producers, PositiveNegatives, the project will create accessible digital materials, initially in form of an online comic/zine that explores young people’s experiences of self-harm, recovery stories, positive coping skills and contact details for support services.
This is part of a growing field known as “graphic medicine”, which draws on the growing evidence for the effectiveness of comics as teaching tools for young people – particularly those with lower levels of literacy who may be disenfranchised with the existing curriculum.
The developing team will include young people, clinical psychologists and graphic designers.
Another such project is the Southwark Youth Troupe at Theatre Troupe CIC. This theatre arts project is made for young people who experience acute, severe, and complex mental distress because of trauma.
Each person works with a one-to-one mentor, helping them to calm and manage their emotions, and gain confidence and self-esteem. They are all given the chance to take part in all aspects of the theatre as an artistic team.
More information about the Maudsley Charity can be found here.