Your mental health story could make history with a new project which invites people to share their experiences to become part of a museum archive of audio stories.
While mental health is still a taboo subject in some of society with people not feeling heard, we wanted to make sure the voices of past and present are heard and recorded, one project at a time. We’re not just shining a light on stories, we’re sharing community reporter skills so that the people who join us are not only able to share their own stories but those of others too.
For co-facilitator Sophie and ‘expert by lived experience,’ where we are co-producing the project is of huge importance. She said:
“Being based at the Mental Health Museum at Field Head Hospital which stimulates so much conversation but it is also an oasis within the sometimes clinical setting of the hospital. Fieldhead is somewhere I have visited as a patient when I had a psychotic episode but the museum is somewhere that has been part of my recovery journey so to now be here delivering a project feels like I have come full circle in a positive direction from being a site of fear and illness to freedom and wellness.”
Sophie had been part of a community reporter project with People’s Voice Media and Creative Minds charity prior to the Pandemic which really helped to remind her of why she loves community work and journalism and talking about mental health.
“We also got to visit Heritage Quay at the time at University of Huddersfield, it felt really prestigious with such an extensive archive combined with a state-of-the-art curve screen. It combines history with modern technology perfectly reflecting the project which combines storytelling and the digital world in order to capture history.”
She said that the project she took part in really transformed her mindset and now she hopes to support others on their journey too.
“Hospitals have been negative triggers for me in the past. Places in which I was ‘treated’ for my mental health problems and leaving ‘uncured’ other than on more drugs. Universities haven’t been much better when it comes to triggering me as I had to have a long sabbatical due to my eating disorder which resulted in being treated in hospital.
But now to be working in that same hospital and at a university in a professional capacity as well as using my expertise by lived experience has shown me how far I have come in my recovery journey, but how such collaborative projects can transform all involved as well as capturing history and learning from it. As they say to find your Purpose or Calling in life find the middle ground of: Passion, Proficiency and Profit.”
The result of this Oral Histories project, will be:
We are developing an Oral History Archive at the Mental Health Museum to document the stories of the people of South West Yorkshire. The archive will create a living record of people’s mental health stories in order to challenge beliefs and perspectives. We’re looking for anyone who has a story to tell, including people who are currently accessing or working in mental health services. We’re also looking to hear from people with a connection to the former West Riding County mental hospitals, particularly Stanley Royd in Wakefield or Storthes Hall in Huddersfield.
We want to collect stories from staff, patients, families and carers involved in current or historical services to add to our collection and our understanding of the history of mental health – and there are lots of ways to take part.
HOW CAN I GET INVOLVED?
We have planned several sessions in both Wakefield and Huddersfield so that you can find dates and locations to suit you. Advance booking is essential, please contact: [email protected] for more info & to book a space.
Community Reporter Training: Story Curation Sessions
6th & 13th July 2022 / 10.30am – 3pm Wakefield Mental Health Museum
21st & 28th July 2022 / 10.30am – 3pm Heritage Quay at The University of Huddersfield
Drop-In Story Gathering Sessions: Share Your Story
9th June 2022 / 1 – 3pm Heritage Quay at The University of Huddersfield
22nd June 2022 / 1 – 3pm Venue TBC
We are also planning to host a screening event during which some of the stories gathered during the project are showcased – date and location TBC
COMMUNITY REPORTING & THE STORYTELLING MOVEMENT
Community Reporting is a storytelling movement that spans the UK and Europe. It supports people to share stories about their own lived experiences and of those living in different communities. Community Reporters are trained in how to use basic technology to record their own stories and other people’s stories and use the learning in the stories to make positive changes in their community.
As part of this project we are looking for people to train as Community Reporters, as well as people to tell their stories – or, indeed, both! The stories of people’s lived experience of mental health and mental health services will form the Oral Histories Archive at the Mental Health Museum.