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Friday 21 July 2017
Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
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Derbyshire Healthcare teams up with artist to show patients the power of doodling

Doodle Pad cover

The latest tool proven to help people express their feelings and emotions and ignite more meaningful conversations between patients and their health professionals is being introduced by Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust this Mental Health Awareness Week (16-22 May 2016).

The Doodle Pad was discovered by Kate Smith, 41 - an award winning children's illustrator, designer and workshop leader from Borrowash in Derbyshire, who used drawing and creativity to release all that was in her head when she was admitted into the Radbourne Unit, an acute mental health hospital, in Derby. 

Since her spell receiving care from Derbyshire Healthcare’s services, Kate has freely offered many hours of her week to give back to the NHS by volunteering for the Trust and facilitating an ‘All Being Well' art and social group to encourage young people experiencing their first episode of psychosis to express themselves using art as a form of therapy.

Ground-breaking innovation

Now Derbyshire Healthcare is working collaboratively with Kate to roll out her ground-breaking innovation which aims to inspire thousands of Derby and Derbyshire residents living with a mental health condition to express their feelings by picking up a pen and pencil. The Trust has printed 3000 pads, which contain advice, instructions and illustrations from Kate to inspire the user. All the pages in the A5 sized pads are perforated, giving the individual the flexibility to tear out any personal pages for safe keeping which they may prefer to not share with others.

Speaking about the Doodle Pad, Kate Smith said: “In 2005 I was admitted to the Radbourne Unit in Derby and experienced my very first episode of psychosis. It was like a whirlwind, but for me, that is where it all started. I was handed some paper and began to scribble, draw dots and make marks. I would draw sad grey clouds and then I would physically blow that cloud away and eventually start to draw happy sun shines and smiley teardrops.

"The Doodle Pad simply worked for me"

“My mind was so busy and full of thoughts; I felt as though I needed to get everything out of my head and down on paper whilst creating lists to help me remember things. My senses were heightened and colour and sound were bright and intense. This release method of using pencils and paper was something very tactile and therapeutic. The Doodle Pad simply worked for me! It helped to ground me and is something I still enjoy doing to support my recovery.

“Therefore I have worked closely with Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to share and develop the Doodle Pad with others to assist in their recovery and increase understanding between the patient and health professional about someone’s background and story. The beauty of the Doodle Pad is that it is for everyone; there is no right or wrong way as to how you go about it. It offers a safe place for someone to start their journey and for them to release all that’s in their head.” 

Launching the Doodle Pad as part of Mental Health Awareness Week

The Doodle Pad will be officially launched as part of the national Mental Health Awareness Week campaign, spearheaded by the Mental Health Foundation, which this year carries a theme of relationships. Kate Smith will also be showcasing the Doodle Pad at the ‘Well –Connected’ exhibition, being run by Rethink Mental Illness to celebrate and raise awareness of mental health, from 19 to 21 May 2016 at the QUAD in Derby City Centre.

Carolyn Green, Executive Director of Nursing & Patient Experience for Derbyshire Healthcare, said: “Last year Kate took part in one of our Ward to Board sessions to share her valuable insights into the services that our Trust provides. Here, Kate spoke about the simple things - the things that seem small - but can make such a difference to reaching people sometimes in their darkest hour. 

“Following these conversations, we have worked closely with Kate to develop the Doodle Pad idea into a reality and will be launching the booklets during Mental Health Awareness Week. We believe that the Doodle Pads will enable people to connect with us, tell their story and share how they’re feeling in their own personalised way by using words, pictures, art and, of course, doodles.”