Culture Therapy

Hey everyone. How are you all? I hope you’re all in good mental health. Today I want to talk about something I heard discussed in a meeting a few months ago: the term day hospital. I think it could be a way forward for people who struggle with mild to severe mental health problems.

As you’re aware, I’ve been involved in a project called the Burgh Castle Almanac for the last two years. The ‘day hospital’ we ran wasn’t your normal style of therapy: the Restoration Trust, who funded the BCA, called it culture therapy. In this instance, that means using the Roman ruins at Burgh Castle and the neighbouring landscape to reconnect participants with nature, the local landscape and their heritage. This, together with having various professionals and experts in to talk about related subjects, offers a positive alternative to dwelling on your problems. Having said that, the BCA community is very inclusive and non-judgemental, and if one of the group members didn’t make a given session, someone would always check to see if they were OK.

I found talking to other people from the group about my mental health really encouraging, because they might have had something similar happen to them and dealt with it in a better way than I did. I could then go back home and try out their advice the next time I was struggling. If I was feeling unwell in a session, no one would fixate on what I was going through, they would just help me enjoy that week’s meeting. That was so refreshing.

So my question to you is: how would your day hospital look to you?

A project like the BCA could be used as the model for a day hospital for people with mild mental health issues, principally to build up their self esteem. Just getting out of the house is a positive start, then attending something like the BCA is a major victory. I wonder if this could also work for people with severe mental health issues? With the help of their support team, they could attend a group session in person, or perhaps a virtual session through Zoom. I think there are so many options and I would love to hear your thoughts about this.

I also think that the project running for two years was a tremendous help, because we all had something to look forward to for such a long time. I really think this is the way forward: you only get six sessions of therapy on the NHS, and are just beginning to open up when – bang – it stops. By contrast, over two years of the BCA I learned to trust everyone and because of that I could gradually reveal how I was feeling.

Thank you for reading. I wish you all good mental health. Remember, always take some time to recharge yourself for the coming week ahead

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