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  • Barts Health

The first A&E Mental Health room in the UK opens at The Royal London Hospital

An award-winning new room to support people with mental health conditions in A&E has opened at The Royal London Hospital, Whitechapel. The mental health room is the first room of its kind in the country to have artwork specially created for its users by its users – a ‘Hope Wall’. With heart-felt messages from people who themselves have struggled with mental health issues and have recovered, the Hope Wall is a piece of art work that aims to offer hope to people who come to A&E because they are struggling with their mental health or are suffering from a mental health crisis. NHS staff worked with artist Mike Miles and service users to design and transform the room into a private and calm place of safety for people to discuss their mental health needs with staff. In a creative and integrated approach, charitably-funded Vital Arts worked closely with East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) and Tower Hamlets Working Together Group to commission artist Mike Miles who used research-based design to create the important space. Miles met with service users over a number of sessions to fully understand the individual needs of those who manage mental health issues. Jane, a service user, helped to design the space including choosing colours and words on the walls. She said: “I think it will make a difference to people. When you are in a state of anxiety and desolation, having something to focus your mind on which is inspiring and uplifting will help to feel like things will get better.” The room was opened on 10th July 2018 by Barts Health NHS Trust Chief Executive Alwen Williams and Chief Executive of East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) Dr Navina Evans. Rikke Albert, Nurse Consultant for East London NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Our Hope Wall project acknowledges the vital role environment plays when supporting people in mental distress. “Service users were involved in the project from the beginning and were a driving force behind its design and messages. The work not only symbolises hope but shows the impact the can be made when physical and mental health organisations collaborate and work together. “The room has gone from a dreary, clinical area to a calm, peaceful and comforting place. We hope the transformation shows the importance we place on supporting those struggling with their mental health." Catsou Roberts, Director of Arts and Health at Barts Health NHS Trust said: “Vital Arts are delighted to have been able to deliver this artwork, which has radically changed the experience of using the space. It is a powerful example of the benefits art can bring within a clinical context.” The project won the East London Foundation Trust Chief Executive 2017 Award and was shortlisted for the ELFT People’s Participation Ward 2017.

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