Mental Health and the NHS

 

KATHRYN MCKENNA
COMMUNICATION DESIGN- GSA '18

Striking so many chords with our own experiences, Kathryn's work around mental health and the NHS' shortcomings is powerful due to its clever and accurate replicas of everyday NHS stationery, which are instantly recognisable and relatable. Using statistics and true stories only reinforces the sentiment that mental health in the UK is in a state of emergency. The following is a selection of Kathryn's work and statements; if you'd like to learn more please visit her website kathryn-mckenna.com.

NHS-Wall-Planner.jpg

NHS Wall Planner

The NHS Wall Planner provides an indictment of unacceptably long waiting times for mental health services in our country, which distressingly are as long as 18 months or more. These shortcomings in care can be life-threatening to people like Nicola Mattocks who have serious mental health problems and are in crisis as a result of the poor system and inadequate provisions. Mattocks, interviewed in The Independent, states that it wasn’t until she was 'hearing voices telling her to kill herself' that she was finally taken seriously and given access to the treatment she needed to survive. This, however, took a year and a half. 

Mattocks’ story has been illustrated in an 18 month calendar, which uses one character per day for 18 months to symbolise the painstaking and devestatingly long wait she was forced to endure before finally being listened to. Her story is one of many... and unfortunately there are a multitude of others, who did not survive the wait. 

NHS Mental Health Receipt

A shocking list of mental health statistics listed in recognisable receipt form to illustrate shortfalls in the system at the expense of life. 

Mind Field

A modern take on an old classic, the game 'Mind Field’ is largely inspired by the strategic game 'Battleships’, the intention being to regulate and develop players’ interpersonal relationships and emotional literacy. 

Each player has access to a board of coordinates exploring the emotional spectrum. The objective, in theory, is simple; to initiate conversation and develop empathy as the game progresses. When dialogue generates surrounding one’s feelings, otherwise concealed locations are identified- for which enhanced talking and listening skills are required. This provides a stark contrast to most modern day digital games of choice which largely pose destructive barriers to these basic human interactions. 

The concept for this was prompted by a discussion with my elder sister, a primary teacher, who expressed concern for the lack of emotional literacy in young people. Children and adolescents have a very limited awareness of the complexity of their emotions and often struggle to articulate how they are feeling beyond basic vocabulary such as 'happy’ and 'sad’. This lack of self-awareness and inner turmoil, if left to spiral, can cause irreparable damage to their life-long mental health, the effects of which are overwhelming. 

Suited to all ranges, this game is not only a stimulus to promote discussion but also an effective tool to educate and support individuals struggling to explain or even identify their emotions. 

NHS Leaflet Stack

Referencing an article from The Independent titled, '2 charts that show what has happened to mental health under the Conservatives’ which states that the 'number of young people arriving in A&E with psychiatric problems has doubled since 2009 but mental health services have faced £538 million cuts’. 

How can these austerity measures be deemed acceptable and anything less than deadly and predetermined failure? My intention was to illustrate these figures by creating an NHS mental health leaflet which create instant impact when used as a paper graph; 2 stacks of leaflets, side by side.

This provides a radical illustration of the unacceptable increase in volume of patients versus an attrocious and ultimately fatal cut to mental health funding. 

NHS Prescriptions

'At least 271 highly vulnerable mental health patients have died over the last six years after failings in NHS care’

- The Guardian

NHS paper prescriptions are both instantly recognisable and synonymous with providing vital information. They provide a concise and relevant format for disclosing mental health statistics. 

The familiar format of NHS prescriptions was used to illustrate the alarming scale of these findings. Each prescription pad states a category associated with these failings and the number of deaths caused as a result. Each individual sheet of paper signifies one life, as does each star. The fifteen categories can be displayed to form a paper graph of findings. 

The NHS logo has been embossed on the prescription pads as a pertinent and irrevocable reminder of their accountability for avoidable failings and unnecessary loss of life. 

NHS Mental Health Registration Form

This piece is designed to exemplify and recreate the exasperation often felt by patients as a result of inaccessible support and inadequate resources available from the futile NHS mental health system. 

The forms appear alluringly simple to fill in, however upon closer inspection, the black pen reaches only the black form and the white reaches only the white form- consequently both are somewhat defunct. As a result, filling in the form as per the instructions (using only the pen provided) cannot register a mark. The perversity of this, alongside the mockery of being invited to try in the first place, is designed to infuriate. The galling nature of this ridiculous setup is designed to highlight the effect a frustrating lack of resourcing in the NHS can have. Continual shortfalls within a flawed system lead to an unacceptable number of cases being unheard or unsatisfactorily resolved. Something has to change. 

NHS Mental Health Appointment Card

NHS mental health services appointment cards. Recreated asking patients to bring it with them when they are 'eventually’ seen, accompanied by a brutally honest statement suggesting complaints will most likely never be addressed due to a devestating lack of resources and provision.