Mental Health Museum, Wakefield

Ruth Quinn, 15.06.2015

Working in co-production with mental health service users and staff

The Mental Health Museum in Wakefield puts
social justice at the heart of its existence.

Over the past 18 months, the museum has worked in co-production with staff, mental health service users and the local community to develop its programmes of activities designed to combat stigma, promote understanding and to contribute to breaking down the barriers to wellbeing.

The museum has produced a variety of collaborative projects, all of which are conducted with a focus on empowerment through knowledge, where therapy is a by-product of the engagement, not the mission.

The museum is redeveloping its patio into an inclusive sensory living space, and the garden will include plants that have been used to treat mental health conditions and will provide a quiet sensory healing space.

In February 2015, the Patio Pals steering group was established to co-ordinate the project, but it became apparent that we weren’t reaching enough service users.

It was clear that we needed to reach out to our inpatient wards and communicate more intimately with people living onsite.

A series of ward-based sessions were designed for our older people and forensic units. We employed a human-centred design approach to the sessions and consultation took place for all creative decisions.

Working with a tight budget means we have taken a very hands-on sustainable approach. It has encouraged us to be truly inclusive: focusing on harnessing participants existing skills and interests, plant donations, gardening group network linkage and an accessible approach to a unique space.

Ruth Quinn is the museum assistant at the Mental Health Museum, Wakefield