Reflections on #AfterWhitchurch

Further to my last post looking ahead to #AfterWhitchurch, here now are my reflections on the event as it happened as also recorded on the Cardiff University mental health blog. I’ve selected some photos, too.

The closure of Whitchurch Hospital to inpatients in spring 2016 provided the backdrop for #AfterWhitchurch, a collaborative Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)/Cardiff University Festival of Social Science event focusing on the changing system of mental health care hosted at Cardiff’s Chapter Arts on November 10th 2016.

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Whitchurch Hospital opened as the Cardiff City Mental Hospital in 1908, the image below being the first entry on the first page of the hospital’s visitors book.

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Members of the hospital’s Historical Society were on hand with objects, documents and photographs from their archive. Artist and director Elaine Paton presented and talked about her work with Moment(o)s of Leaving, a multimedia performance produced to mark the occasion of the hospital’s closure. Audiorecorded interviews, created for Momento(s) of Leaving by artist/curator and researcher Julia Thomas, recounted staff members’ reflections on leaving Whitchurch and their thoughts for the future.

Chaired by Norman Young from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, School of Healthcare Sciences and service user researchers discussed how mental health care has shifted from hospital to the community, and shared reflections from research into the organisation of services, the work and experiences of service users and staff and the provision and evaluation of novel psychological interventions.

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Ben Hannigan talked about using in-depth case methods to understand mental health services at different levels of organisation, and Nicola Evans discussed her research into the mental health of children and young people. Dean Whybrow drew on 18 years of experience in the Royal Navy to describe how mental health support and interventions is provided in the military. Alan Meudell shared his reflections on being a service user researcher, and Bethan Edwards spoke of her dual identity as an occupational therapy researcher investigating care for older people with dementia and as a service user researcher. Stimulating and informed questions from the floor challenged the panel to think about stigma, the impact of research on changing practice and services offering respite and asylum.

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