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B&NES World Mental Health Day 2015

This event is run every year with the idea of breaking down stigma that is associated with mental health. This year the Bath celebrations were held on the 10th October. It is a partner venture with a wide a range of volunteers supporting the design and planning of an event alongside organisations in health and social care. This year there were fabulous contributions across B&NES from many and the activities included a roving community bus, and 2 venues with music, theatre, urban art, human library, wellbeing cakes, Mind apples and “Sofa So Good?” art installation to name a few.
Inspired by the event one of our artists, Steve Hedley, created the World Mental Health Day Image – A helping hand.
WMHD Logo copy

Old Bond Street, in the centre of Bath, was the place where artist Fiona Winning brought “sofa so good?”, an installation for conversation for World Mental Health Day 2015. 

A three seater sofa, a standard lamp a rug and a small coffee table, furniture you’d find in any living room, but on this occasion they were placed outside in a busy street in the centre of Bath as part of the World Mental Health Day, an event put on in Bath to raise awareness of mental health.
‘Sofa so good?’ is an idea devised by artist Fiona Winning to engage people in conversation, and working with Creativity Works, and volunteers presenting The Human Library, the public were invited to sit on the sofa and share their thoughts about mental health, and as a way of passing on a positive and affirming thought, were invited make paper butterflies, write affirming messages onto the wings of paper butterflies  and then to pass on to other people.

“The day was dry, but windy. People moved through the gazebo area, pausing, at the cakes on one side, peering curiously at the butterflies on the other side. Human books meandered from side to side, identified by their red coloured miniature book covers, pinned to their chests.”

Fiona said,

“I met 30 or so people during the day. Some joined me on the sofa, some preferred to chat standing. Others wanted to focus on writing messages and making their butterflies. Some small people persuaded mums and dads to stop and look, I’d prepared some ready-made Butterflies with this possibility in mind.”

There were many who shared their stories throughout the day. Phillip* described his experience of a mental breakdown that left him jobless and that led to the breakdown of personal relationships. He is now a photographer, able to socialise and sees his future with an inspiring optimism. Jeremy*, a third year Law student, said he has lived with extreme Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for many years. He was very keen for people to know more about the condition.

“We sat on the ‘sofa so good’ for about 10 mins. In another setting it would have been good to have had people sitting with us listening to his story. Jeremy* declined to make a butterfly, asking for a ready made one, on to which he wrote his message – “be brave and talk about it”.

Coincidently, another third year student talked about her struggle with her OCD, she described the butterfly activity as a ‘lovely and very gentle thing’.

“It was a successful event, people were so generous and open with their stories, cakes were eaten, music played and there was a tremendous buzz about the place. I didn’t get to the Meeting House, but have heard that echoed the success.” Fiona Winning

sofa so good[1]

Indoor event at the Friends Meeting House  

At the Friends Meeting House venue there were stalls from all sectors involved with mental health from talking therapies to our project Fresh Art@ which is a partnership project between Creativity Works, Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS trust and Sirona. Fresh Art@ worker Nathaniel Burgess and our Creativity Works volunteer Steve Hedley ran our own stall showing how creativity supports community engagement. Many people took part in the activities on offer including sunflower badges and urban art tagging.
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Steve Hedley’s “Tag Me” wall attracted much attention – including William Sandry, the Major of Bath.
We are already starting to plan next year’s event so if you would like to be a part of World Mental Health Day 2016 please contact Creativity Works. For more info visit:
Words by Fiona Winning, Nathaniel Burgess and Philippa Forsey*Names changed to protect identities.

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