How Can We Do This Better?

Changing the narrative of the suicide capital

how can we do this better? written in tape on the floor

Part of Madlove: Take Over. 29 November 2019. 

Commissioned by Bethlem Gallery, Part of Mental Health and Justice. Funded by Wellcome Trust. 

Artist Facilitators by With Cathy Cross, Fox Irving, Hwa Young Jung, Caroline Moore.

Academic partner Ursula Read. 

This event presented a chance for everyone affected by mental health in St Helens to be in the same room to consider ‘How Can We Do This Better?’ How can we work better together, to support each other and improve mental health care?

One of the final events of the St Helens Madlove Takeover that I curated during November, How Can We Do This Better was a hybrid of consensus decision making (spokes councils) and process led artist workshop.

The event brought together people with lived experience and those from the mental health industry to consider what can be done better, what should cease to happen, how we listen to each other, how we support people in crisis and how we change the narrative of suicide capital in St Helens.

Over 40 people took part in the 3-hour event and participants were facilitated to work in small groups to make creative, practical or other responses to three questions.

After each question the artist facilitators shared those responses with the whole group. Together these created a map of responses, ideas, suggestions, experience and thoughts.

For the last part of the process, once all 3 questions have been answered, there was a sharing of the whole. A wish list was created for the town, which is now displayed in the window of the Madlove Take Over space.

For an outline of a spokes council please see this document – though this should be taken only as a guide.

Whilst a normal spokes council is conversation based, my approach allowed for other ways of discussion and sharing – including drawing, collage, performance etc.

This process will be developed further in the future.