I think one of the biggest difficulties in life we all face is taking that first step into something new. In a New Year I can perfectly understand that people look ahead with anxiety given the difficult conditions that exist at the moment in terms of healthcare, economic and employment opportunities. Imagine then how those anxieties are for a person with a mental health condition.
As I often do I draw on my own experience and the experience of working and being with people going through a mental illness. I think back to the first day I attended the mental Health Charity Workbase (Now sadly closed). During my illness I had started painting and here was a place with a supportive team helping people get back into a social and working environment. So on my first day I arrived in a hoody, hood up, sat in a corner ignoring everyone and not speaking with head down working on a painting I had brought. The fact that I was there at all was a major achievement and took a lot of coaxing from my CPN at the time.
So I was reminded of this in the last few days with a flurry of enquiries from people being brave enough to make that initial contact by email to ask if they would be able to come or being anxious about taking that first step. I hope that Space2Create offers as non threatening an experience for the first time attendee as possible but it had me thinking what was it actually like?
So having established that it is a place they might want to come they then have to get to us. Quite a daunting prospect. If you have a social worker or CPN to support you in that initial visit then great it helps. Maybe a friend come along for the first session. It is hugely daunting though by yourself, to find the building, to walk through the door, to ask. Then to suddenly find yourself in the middle of a strange group of people doing some crazy art thing that they all seem to understand but maybe you don’t with your anxiety blocking your ability to participate and communicate well.
So we have thought on this and looked at how we can make it easier. We try to anyway. We try not to overface people, keep that first contact as simple and easy going as possible. Avoiding loads of facts and rules and names and forms and all the other things newness implies. It is an area we need to look at carefully I think because that first contact can be the difference between somebody getting help and improving their life or disappearing again into isolation.
Please don’t be afraid to come to S2C under any circumstances. Everybody is welcome regardless of their condition, age, gender, ethnicity or any classification society wishes to impose. You are, to us, simply somebody who needs us.
Some of the artwork this last week.