The Mark Hanson Digital Media Award - Shortlist Review
Posted Friday 9 November 2012
For some years I’ve been interested in how digital media can be used to enable dialogue on mental health issues. For that reason I was pleased to be asked to review the shortlist for the Mark Hanson Digital Media Award.
The Big White Wall is an extensive online resource compiled by the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust. As well as self-assessment tests and information on useful topics, it has a “Talkabout” forum where people can talk about their concerns with others, and a virtual wall for which you can create a “brick” that expresses your thoughts and feelings. It’s currently beta-testing a segment to access individual therapy online. I had to pay £2 to access it, but it’s available for free in some areas of the UK, or in some cases people can obtain an access code from their GP. Members and veterans of the armed forces and their families can also access it for free. Given the often-patchy access to psychological therapies in the real world, this is a useful online alternative.
Ilona Burton’s blog for the Independent covers the topic of eating disorders from her perspective as a survivor in recovery. Burton is an informed and articulate voice on a complex and difficult condition, for which there’s a real lack of NHS resources. As a nurse with a clinical interest in eating disorders, I was particularly moved by her discussion on the ethics of force-feeding patients, an unpleasant quandary with no easy answers.
Also speaking from a recovery viewpoint is Johnjusthuman, a YouTube vlogger detailing his experiences with schizoaffective disorder. I particularly recommend his 25 minute film Mental Illness: My Recovery. Two points in the film stood out for me. The first was when he described his fear of admitting that he experiences voices and paranoia. The second was when a suicide attempt kickstarted a chain of events that led to his eventual recovery.
Fathers Reaching Out is a support website for men whose partners are suffering from post-natal depression. The site founder, Mark Williams, relates his deeply personal story of the turmoil affecting him and his family when his wife became unwell. It provides coping tips and advice on where to get support. I found this to be an eloquent reminder of the stresses and strains of being a carer, and that often the carers themselves need care and support.
Mental Health Cop is written by a police inspector with a professional interest in mental health issues. The police have an often-overlooked role in mental health, particularly with regard to people in the grip of an acute crisis. The author provides a wealth of information and expertise, especially about Section 136 of the Mental Health Act, under which the police can remove a person with a mental health problem to a place of safety.
These are all worthy nominees, and I don’t envy the judges their task of picking a single winner from such an excellent shortlist. Technology permitting, I’ll be live-tweeting the awards. Good luck to all those in the running.
Follow him on Twitter: @thus_spake_z
All views are expressed in a personal capacity.
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