This is Mental Health Awareness week 2020, which happens to coincide with International Museums Day today, 18 May 2020. As a bit of trivia to kick-start Mental Health Awareness week we thought we’d look into whether there was a link. Guess what! Did you know there are museums dedicated to mental health? Well there are!
International Museums Day
International Museums Day held annually on or around 18 May. It is coordinated by the International Council of Museums. Each year International Museums Day is dedicated to a specific theme which changes to reflect the basis of the international museum community’s topical focus. It provides a platform to raise public awareness on the role museums play in developing society today across the world. The 2020 theme is:
Museums for Equality: Diversity and Inclusion
so what better time to look into the connection between museums and mental health than now, when we’ve got a week dedicated to mental health, this years theme being:
We did a bit of research and found there really are museums dedicated to mental health!
There are museums dedicated to Mental Health
The first one we came across was Mental Health Museum Wakefield. We loved their opening line:
Together we can change the world! Our extraordinary collection aims to support the empowerment of people, joining together combat mental health stigma and prejudice. Together we can co-curate a mindful, knowledgeable and active society.
Their whole aim is so clear. They aim to be a leading resource for the history of mental health to help people in their communities live fulfilling lives.
Their website is worth a visit. It certainly inspired us. If you have stories, donations or would like to exhibit within the museum email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next we came across The Bethlhem Museum of the Mind and at first look we were literally thinking it was going to take us on a journey, but no, it’s in South London.
This museum is situated in the grounds of the Bethlem Royal Hospital founded in 1247. The first institution in the UK to specialise in the care of the mentally ill. They continue to provide in-patient care as part of the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. The Bethlem Gallery, Bethlem Museum of the Mind was formally opened by artist Grayson Perry in March 2015. The museum is said to provide unparalleled resource to support the history of mental healthcare and treatment, and if you check out their website there are e-learning resources.
We then came across The Museums and Wellbeing Alliance whose mission is to:
- provide leadership and advocacy for the sector’s contribution to health and wellbeing;
- identify areas of best practice, and gaps in knowledge and training;
- provide support, guidance and recommendations on best practice, getting started, partnership work and health commissioning;
- establish a common language for this interdisciplinary field and highlight what works.
Their research report gives a great insight into the impact of museums on mental health.
Now we know there are museums dedicated to mental health!
Given that the 2020 Mental Health Awareness week is dedicated to Kindness Matters we’re thinking what a shame most of these places are closed. Through our coaching and early intervention work, together with our networking communities we know how important art has been and continues to be in not only mental health recovery, but also expressing what mental health means to each and everyone of us. During COVID-19 we’ve seen a huge increase in crafts, art, singing, and dancing (mostly via Tick Tock!),
so why not share your art or craft with someone as an act of kindness.
What started off as a little bit of fun exploration for us to kick-start Mental Health Awareness week took us a million miles away from trivia! Quite the contrary. We’ve worked with clients who have been through arts based social prescribing to help with mental health issues, and we’d love to see coaching, mentoring and career direction support be part of the social prescribing offer, but this recent bit of research has really brought it home to us the importance of museums in mental health, social education and responsibility. Museums really do have a vital part to play in supporting mental health but also education.