Paula Boyd from USA is one of the contributors. Paula has chosen medications as one of her artefacts, both for not helping and helping:
As the museum notes in relation to the exhibit above:
“Paula laughs about the list of medication she was prescribed before being given the ones that she takes today, none of which worked for her due to being misdiagnosed. She lost years of her life trying to find what works for her and eventually found what does”.
Alberto Niestadt from Argentina has coffee cups to represent the social connection he found bonding over coffee and which he now uses to support others:
The exhibition made me reflect on how we need to move away from some of the current binary divisions within which debates are framed in mental health. For me, the binary distinction betweeneither“proper treatment”orother techniques, tactics or approaches that may affect mental health outcomes, risks us ending up in an unhelpful cul-de-sac.
The category “treatment” currently largely covers those things that professionals provide (generally medication or talking therapies). There is no overarching category for everything else, whether societal changes (e.g. greater income equality), self-care (from exercise to bubble baths) or social connection (with peers and others). There is an implicit hierarchy whereby professionally-led treatment is seen at the top. In the museum, a wide range of events and approaches were highlighted by contributors, ranging from grandmotherly support to mindfulness groups at work. For many people coping or recovery involved a combination of things such as talking therapies and family support.
Last year atWellcome, we announced our intention to invest£200 million to pursue our visionof a world in which no one is held back by mental health problems. We will be working with scientists, policy makers and, crucially, those with experience of mental health problems, to develop the next generation of approaches and treatments. To do this we need to consider the widest possible range of approaches to try to assess what are the active ingredients that help in any individual case. We need to move beyond narrow definitions and an either/or outlook to answer the key question ofwhat works for whom in what contexts and why.
It’s a big task, but as the museum shows, we simply cannot sit back while so much potential is being held back.
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