The Power of Story

Helena Taylor-Knox, Power of Story Project Officer at the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, talks about her project sharing real life stories to raise awareness of the mental health of older adults.

Older adult patients, their carers and staff at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM) are being asked to share their real life stories as part of a new project to highlight the mental health of older adults. SLaM created the project as the organisation was conscious of the diversity of experience within the services, in terms of both people who use and work in them, which is rarely captured or celebrated. For this reason SLaM applied for funding from the Maudsley charity to set up the three year project called the Power of Story.

I was captivated when I heard about the Power of Story project at South London and Maudsley. For the many, (too many for a lady to divulge!), years I have worked in and around older adults mental health, I have been acutely aware of the rich and diverse experiences, knowledge and connections people have that often get lost in the midst of their distress and illness. Since joining this project, I have worked with a wide range of people with mental health problems who are artists, sports people, clinicians, journalists and those with amazing tales of seeing the farthest parts of the world in their travels. I have also heard carers’ amazing heart warming stories of love and strength and of course the insights of staff who dedicate their careers to this field.

The ‘Power of Story’ project will create a pool of real life stories which will be used to generate awareness of the issues older people face and improve the mental well-being services offered to them. The project will appreciate the human experiences that make us who we are and allow those participating the chance to share their passions, creativity and the highs and the lows of their life.

The project, launched on February 1, coincides with National Storytelling Week. Participants can tell their stories through film, art, music, poetry and written literature.