Compassion for Voices: a tale of courage and hope

Historically, the primary aim of psychosis treatment has been to reduce or eliminate psychotic experiences (eg with antipsychotic drugs), which has shaped our broader cultural views of these phenomena as being the undesirable symptoms of a disordered brain. This results in stigmatisation of people with such experiences, which is not only isolating and shaming for them, but can also drive them into an internal battle with their experiences, eg attempting to fight, control or suppress them.

This 5-minute film presents an alternative way of relating to experiences; this goes against the tide of traditional approaches and culturally engrained attitudes. Essentially, it charts the therapeutic progression of a young man, Stuart, from being tormented by his voices, through establishing safeness, to developing the qualities needed to engage with them through compassionate dialogue. For people with psychosis, this may have therapeutic value as a template or metaphor for their own recovery journey.

Compassion for Voices is a Cultural Institute at King’s project in collaboration with the Department of Psychology and animator, Kate Anderson.

Using Photography to Give a Voice to Mental Illness

Editor’s Note: This story was originally published as a Patient Experience Case Study on the Beryl Institute website.

“Case Studies provide real stories of current efforts, including programs being initiated, practices being implemented, and outcomes being targeted and/or achieved. Case studies are presented as both an opportunity for learning from others as well as a spark for further ideas on how we work to improve the patient experience.”

What was the challenge, opportunity or issue faced?

Working with an acute mental health inpatient population, we saw many reasons to introduce photoVOICE here at the North Bay Regional Health Centre. It is powerful in the fight against the stigma that surrounds mental illness, it is empowering to our patients by giving them a voice and it educates everyone it touches from the patient to the policy maker. A photograph goes beyond what words can explain, by sharing the challenges that our patients captured on camera, we were as staff, family and a community more moved to help bring about change! What did you do to address it?

We gave cameras to our inpatients in the Specialized Mental Health Centre and asked them to teach us through pictures and narratives just what recovery from mental illness looks [...] continue the story

Refocusing The Lens – Untitled 2

PHOTOVOICE is an engagement and empowerment strategy that uses photography as a tool for social change. It gives any group the opportunity to record, reflect on, and critique personal and community issues in a creative way.

The aim of this project is to motivate participants to be actively involved in decisions that affect their own lives, while decreasing stigma and broadening understanding of their personal struggles. The resulting exhibit, REFOCUSING THE LENS, features the work of five participants who have documented their personal experiences with mental health, eager to represent them to the outside world. Untitled 2, By Gabriel

Artist’s Statement

We all leave an imprint, whether positive or negative. You never know what you leave behind until the past catches up to you. Select a thumbnail to see a photo and its story.

Refocusing The Lens – Untitled 1

PHOTOVOICE is an engagement and empowerment strategy that uses photography as a tool for social change. It gives any group the opportunity to record, reflect on, and critique personal and community issues in a creative way.

The aim of this project is to motivate participants to be actively involved in decisions that affect their own lives, while decreasing stigma and broadening understanding of their personal struggles. The resulting exhibit, REFOCUSING THE LENS, features the work of five participants who have documented their personal experiences with mental health, eager to represent them to the outside world. Untitled 1, By Gabriel

Artist’s Statement

Sometimes my mind can imprison me. It’s up to me to find the best way out. Select a thumbnail to see a photo and its story.

Refocusing The Lens – Limits

PHOTOVOICE is an engagement and empowerment strategy that uses photography as a tool for social change. It gives any group the opportunity to record, reflect on, and critique personal and community issues in a creative way.

The aim of this project is to motivate participants to be actively involved in decisions that affect their own lives, while decreasing stigma and broadening understanding of their personal struggles. The resulting exhibit, REFOCUSING THE LENS, features the work of five participants who have documented their personal experiences with mental health, eager to represent them to the outside world. Limits, By DK

Artist’s Statement

Having endured so much for so long you get to the point when you’ve taken absolutely all you can bear. At that point it becomes evident that you do not have the tools you need to move into wellness from where you are – you have no choice but to do what you desperately needed to do from the beginning: reach out. Having been so closed off for so long, I have now learned that for the rest of my life there will always people who are willing to, and capable of, helping me. Believing this, despite some strong opposing thoughts arising within [...] continue the story

Refocusing The Lens – Act quickly

PHOTOVOICE is an engagement and empowerment strategy that uses photography as a tool for social change. It gives any group the opportunity to record, reflect on, and critique personal and community issues in a creative way.

The aim of this project is to motivate participants to be actively involved in decisions that affect their own lives, while decreasing stigma and broadening understanding of their personal struggles. The resulting exhibit, REFOCUSING THE LENS, features the work of five participants who have documented their personal experiences with mental health, eager to represent them to the outside world. Act quickly, By DK

Artist’s Statement

In my personal experience with mental illness things tend to move – they either get better or worse. They don’t stay the same for long. Navigating this reality is like trying to follow a map to figure out how to get to the side of wellness. The right side is so easy to make sense of and get through, while the left is near impossible. Its funny how in the midst of my struggle it always seems like I’m on the left side… until things get even worse and more confusing, as they have in the past. I notice that I often [...] continue the story

Refocusing The Lens – A leap of faith

PHOTOVOICE is an engagement and empowerment strategy that uses photography as a tool for social change. It gives any group the opportunity to record, reflect on, and critique personal and community issues in a creative way.

The aim of this project is to motivate participants to be actively involved in decisions that affect their own lives, while decreasing stigma and broadening understanding of their personal struggles. The resulting exhibit, REFOCUSING THE LENS, features the work of five participants who have documented their personal experiences with mental health, eager to represent them to the outside world. A leap of faith, By DK

Artist’s Statement

In my recovery journey one of the biggest obstacles of all is overcoming feelings of fear and hopelessness so overwhelming that they often cripple me in my efforts to move forward. It’s a scary thing to walk into the unknown. Moving forward is easy when you can clearly see a positive ending, but taking a leap of faith even in times of hopelessness and uncertainty, I am discovering, is the key to making progress. Select a thumbnail to see a photo and its story.

Refocusing The Lens – When the skies clear up

PHOTOVOICE is an engagement and empowerment strategy that uses photography as a tool for social change. It gives any group the opportunity to record, reflect on, and critique personal and community issues in a creative way.

The aim of this project is to motivate participants to be actively involved in decisions that affect their own lives, while decreasing stigma and broadening understanding of their personal struggles. The resulting exhibit, REFOCUSING THE LENS, features the work of five participants who have documented their personal experiences with mental health, eager to represent them to the outside world. When the skies clear up, By DK

Artist’s Statement

Depression is like an overcast day. Its been really really valuable to me when the skies become clear, even if for only a moment. It makes things easier when the beauty in the world becomes evident. I need moments like that. That is the proof. It is what gives me hope when it once again becomes cloudy. Knowing that behind the clouds there is beauty and that the clouds, my depression, are nothing but mist obscuring my view. The beauty has always been there and is always there whether I can see it or not. Knowing this fact instills [...] continue the story

Refocusing The Lens – Ben’s island

PHOTOVOICE is an engagement and empowerment strategy that uses photography as a tool for social change. It gives any group the opportunity to record, reflect on, and critique personal and community issues in a creative way.

The aim of this project is to motivate participants to be actively involved in decisions that affect their own lives, while decreasing stigma and broadening understanding of their personal struggles. The resulting exhibit, REFOCUSING THE LENS, features the work of five participants who have documented their personal experiences with mental health, eager to represent them to the outside world. Ben’s island, By Lau

Artist’s Statement

I always had a difficult time imaging a peaceful place where I can relax my mind, somewhere where I can be mindful for even a few seconds. Through practicing mindfulness I was able to draw up this beautiful place based on my imagination. It gives me peace.

Stay in the moment. Be present. Be mindful. Select a thumbnail to see a photo and its story.

Refocusing The Lens – Unseal me

PHOTOVOICE is an engagement and empowerment strategy that uses photography as a tool for social change. It gives any group the opportunity to record, reflect on, and critique personal and community issues in a creative way.

The aim of this project is to motivate participants to be actively involved in decisions that affect their own lives, while decreasing stigma and broadening understanding of their personal struggles. The resulting exhibit, REFOCUSING THE LENS, features the work of five participants who have documented their personal experiences with mental health, eager to represent them to the outside world. Unseal me, By Lau

Artist’s Statement

Every pixel forms a dream, a dream that seems to be really far away. You can’t just use your body to get there. You need to free your mind from its cage. My mind is not a prison. Even when it sometimes feels that way, it’s just a matter of turning the light on so I can find my way out. Sometimes I am like a frog in the well; I feel unable to connect with the outside world. Do I need a password to make the connection? Do I even need one or does it already live within me? Everything outside [...] continue the story