Andrew Seed, Integrative Psychotherapist at Cygnet Hospital Ealing, explains the background and aim of the project:
“Many mental health difficulties can lead to an individual feeling disempowered or losing control over their environment. This can have a relational aspect and can sometimes be as a result of difficulties at home, in the community or social spaces. In some disorders the focus of control can be directed to towards the body in a harmful way and in some cases this can be a way of coping with emotions that can feel intolerable.
“This can be addressed in a number of ways during treatment. Transforming Spaces is a collaboration between Social Work with Natalia Masternak and maintenance with Sean Somers and Lewis Loderick. In hospitals the maintenance team often work behind the scenes but here at Cygnet Hospital Ealing we realised the benefit of bringing maintenance to the forefront of the hospital community.
“The service users found this was an opportunity to experience doing something that feels every day and real as well and socialising with a wider pool of people. The group is a project to redesign and redecorate the lounge and other spaces. Painting has proved a surprisingly popular hobby for the residents. Maybe it is something to do with the Zen like nature of a methodical movement, or maybe it offers a welcome micro experience of life outside of the hospital.
“Many of our service users struggle with perfectionism, OCD, anxiety and comparisons. The group offers a space to work these through on the physical plane, through action. Together, beautifying the hospital rooms and reforming disused spaces is an opportunity to explore their struggles in what is often a light hearted enjoyable space.
“It is also an opportunity to play with assertiveness and the expansion of identity, empowering residents to consider what quality of environment and experience feels comfortable and safe working as a community to actively make decisions and experience a healthy mastery.”