Derbyshire NHS launches art therapy pad for Mental Health Awareness week

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Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Trust has marked Mental Health Awareness week by launching a new creative tool to help patients open up.

The Doodle Pad was devised by Kate Smith, 41, an award-winning children’s illustrator, designer and workshop leader from Borrowash.

Kate was admitted into the Radbourne Unit, an acute mental health hospital in Derby, in 2005, suffering her first episode of psychosis.

Kate said: “It was like a whirlwind. My senses were heightened and colour and sound were bright and intense.

“My mind was so busy and full of thoughts; I felt as though I needed to get everything out of my head and create lists to help me remember things.”

Kate used her drawing as a way help express what she was going through.

She said: “I was given some paper and began to scribble, draw dots and make marks. I would draw sad grey clouds, then I would physically blow that cloud away and eventually start to draw happy sun shines and smiley teardrops.”

Since receiving treatment, Kate has given much of her free time back to the NHS as a volunteer, facilitating All Being Well, an art and social therapy group for young people also experiencing their first episode of psychosis.

Carolyn Green, a director with the trust, said: “Last year Kate took part in one of our Ward to Board sessions to share her valuable insights into the services that we provide.

“She spoke about the simple things— that seem small, but can make such a difference to reaching people sometimes in their darkest hour.”

Now the trust has printed special drawing pads containing Kate’s advice, instructions and illustrations to help thousands of Derbyshire residents living with a mental health condition to tell their unique stories by picking up a pencil.

Kate added: “There’s no right or wrong way to use it. It’s a safe place for someone to start their journey.

The Doodle Pads will be on show at the Rethink Mental Illness exhibition, running May 19-21 at the QUAD in Derby.