In response to my learnings about the role of social work in mental health contexts I created small sculptural artworks playing on the tension that can occur between the medical and social model. I hope to have demonstrated the importance of social worker in mental health settings as a way of treating service users holistically rather than based on symptoms or diagnosis alone. I hope to encourage viewers to consider the richness and complexities of individuals’ lives and rather than ‘othering’ those suffering mental distress, realise that we are all subject to changes and circumstances which can alter the way we see ourselves and the world around us and which can direct our mental wellness.

The role of social work in mental health, I feel, is of huge significance as a means of reducting stigma surrounding mental illness, empowering service users and giving ‘patients’ the tools to own their recovery, however they may define it.

Pill bottle with social work story printed on

“My name is Mo…

…I am 18 years old and I moved to the UK 2 years ago. Originally I am from Sudan but had to leave because of the violence. I like the UK, but it is always cold and I miss my family, I cannot speak to them because Sudan’s military control the internet so stop phone calls and emails leaving Sudan. I have not spoken to my mother since I left. The doctors say I have something called PTSD but I don’t know what that means. I can’t decide whether I love Manchester United or A.C Milan more. In 5 years time I would like to be a mechanic but most importantly would like to return to Sudan, where I hope there will be peace, and be with my family again.”

Pill bottle with social work story printed on

“I’m Jason…

…my wife left me a couple of months ago so I’ve been staying on a colleagues sofa. I want to get my own place but can’t afford it right now. I was married to Claire for 24 years and we have two beautiful children together. I can understand why she left, I was pretty useless as a husband. I never thought I would be a bachelor again… it’s not as fun as it was in my 20’s. I’ve been waiting for talking therapy for 4 months now. I hope I can sort myself out in time for my daughter’s graduation in July, I am so proud of her and want her to be proud of me too.”

Pill bottle with social work story printed on

“I’m Chan…

…I have two boys. One of my children has Autism and its really hard looking after him. My fiancé works all the time and I can feel so alone. I love my children but it is so hard to cope sometimes. I often feel like they are better off without me.

But I have been working with my social worker for 3 months and she has helped me get some support for my son. I don’t feel like such a failure as I used to and now I can see a future where I can walk down the aisle with a smile on my face.”

“My name is Taiwo…

…and I’m 20. I love drawing and got into Central Saint Martins last year to study Foundation Art and Design. I dropped out of university after something happened and don’t know yet if I will go back. I took my case to court but it was thrown out after ‘insufficient evidence’ and now I feel like everyone thinks I’m a liar. He is graduating this year and I have had to move back in with my mum and dad… where is the justice in that? I feel a bit lost right now and don’t know who is best to talk to…or if they will ever believe me…”

Pill bottle with social work story printed on

“I’m Lily…

…I’m 95. I was born in 1924 and met my husband when I was 12. He was in the RAF and I raised my children alone which wasn’t always easy, especially with my up and down moods. My husband died 8 years ago and I’m lost without him, two years ago I was put in a care home and hate it here because there is nobody to talk to. When I was younger there was no such thing as ‘mental health’, if only support was available to me all those years ago. I am a Nanna to 9 grandchildren and 1 great grandchild. Family for me is everything.”