Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Christmas 2019: Express Yourself

The art of wellbeing

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 16 December 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6772
  1. Niamh Brooks

Artwork by patients of mental health services in south London is exhibited at the Bethlem Gallery in Beckenham. Integrated within the Bethlem Royal psychiatric hospital and funded by the Maudsley Charity, the gallery is run by artists and aims to provide a supportive environment for artistic development as part of recovery and wellbeing.

“Nothing is ever too much of a big idea here. There is a willingness to make things work.”

This comes from Sarah, an artist exhibiting at Bethlem Gallery and a former patient of the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust. She describes the gallery as a combination of the professional art world and a safe space for creativity. It’s a balance that supports people through treatment and recovery; in Sarah’s case it has also aided career opportunities.

“I had treatment for eating disorders over 18 months at the Maudsley hospital,” Sarah explains, “I was a photographer who hated being in front of the camera. During my treatment I became inspired to use photography therapeutically to look at myself differently. Rather than focus on how my body …

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