Yessica's Journey Blog

Welcome to the Yessica's Journey Blog Site, a Journey through Mental Health, Wellbeing and Creativity.


Leave a comment

Yessica’s Journey NHS Mentors – Huge thank you to Roz Brooks and Welcome to New Mentors Michele Allott and Graham Creelman

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

I would like to thank Roz Brooks for all her support and help on the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project as my mentor. Roz is the Director of Nursing and Patient Safety at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and is sadly leaving at the end of the month. She has been my mentor for several years and has helped me so much.  She has always given me her time even though she is incredibly busy and is someone who has always got back to me which I do appreciate.  She also has a great sense of humor so I have enjoyed our meetings. She helped and supported me to apply for further funding from the NHS Charitable funds earlier this year and we successfully received it to make some of the puppets for the animation, so huge thanks to Roz, Maggie Wheeler, Graham Creelman and the Trust.

IMG_2733

From Left to Right – Mentor Meeting with Roz Brooks Director of Nursing and Patient Safety, Michele Allott Deputy Director of Nursing and Patient Safety at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia

Maggie Wheeler was also my mentor and left earlier this year. She was the Chair of the Trust and also helped and supported me with Roz throughout the project. Maggie showed a genuine interest in my project and also helped support the Charitable funding bid. She has always been so enthusiastic and encouraging. I have stayed in touch with Maggie which is great, she has a great sense of humor so I have enjoyed working with her. Maggie is now the Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance and Chair of the Garage and is an Associate at Foresight Partnership . Gary Page is the New Chair at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust and I wish him well in his new role at the Trust. Please click here to see earlier Blog about Maggie.

I will really miss Maggie and Roz as I enjoyed working with both of them. Thanks for putting up with me and keep in touch.  I would also like to thank both of you for your help earlier this year and last year when I had a relapse – I appreciate all the help and support you gave me and thank you both and will always be grateful to the Trust for the help I received through my care when I was unwell.

Maggie Wheeler Chair of the Trust from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia - Yessica's Journey Meeting

Maggie Wheeler Chair of the Trust from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia . Maggie has been one of the mentors for the Yessica’s Journey project

I am so pleased to announce that Michele Allott is one of my new mentors for the project at the NHS. Michele is the Deputy Director of Nursing and Patient Safety at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. She has already been a huge help and she really has shown a genuine interest in the project. I would like to welcome Michele to the project and look forward to working with her in the future. We have already had a meeting together with Roz and I showed them the progress and development of the project. Please see picture below. They both suggested that we promote the project more within the NHS which is great and I am looking forward to working with Michele.

Michele has worked for many years within the NHS and has a background in Mental Health, her experience and knowledge will be a huge benefit to the project.

IMG_2735

From Left to Right – Mentor Meeting with Roz Brooks Director of Nursing and Patient Safety, Michele Allott Deputy Director of Nursing and Patient Safety at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia

I am pleased to announce that Graham Creelman who is the Non-Executive Director, Deputy Chair and Senior Independent Director at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is also my new mentor for the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ Project. Graham joined the project earlier this year and has been a huge help to the project already and I would like to welcome him to the project. I have shown Graham the progress of the project.

He has had a long career in journalism, film making and production. He was also the managing director of Anglia TV and director of regional programming for the ITV network. Graham is currently a consultant on creativity within organisations including the Norwich University of the Arts which is where I worked for 15 years and also did my degree. He also has an OBE for services to broadcasting. Grahams experience in film making and creativity will be a huge help to the project.

Graham Creelman Non Executive Director at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Graham Creelman Non Executive Director at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – showing Graham the development of the project

I have been very lucky with all the mentors I have had from the NHS. Michele and Graham will be fantastic for the project and I can’t thank them enough for their time and patience.

IMG_2730

From Left to Right – Mentor Meeting with Roz Brooks Director of Nursing and Patient Safety, Michele Allott Deputy Director of Nursing and Patient Safety at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

IMG_2908

Graham Creelman Non Executive Director at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

IMG_2732

From Left to Right – Mentor Meeting with Roz Brooks Director of Nursing and Patient Safety, Michele Allott Deputy Director of Nursing and Patient Safety at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust


Leave a comment

NHS Early Intervention Psychosis Team Staff Away Day

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Website

I was pleased to be invited to a Staff Away Day by Psychologist Ruth Turner who works for the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s Early Intervention Psychosis Team. I was asked to do a presentation of my mental health journey and incorporate an animation film I made when I first become unwell whilst studying for my degree. I was also asked to show my showreel of animations including ‘Yessica’s Journey’ which is hoped to be used by the NHS and Mind in training workshops and events when completed. The event took place at Carrow Road in Norwich.

Ruth Turner and Anastacia with Staff at the Early Intervention Psychosis Team Away Day at Carrow Road.

Ruth Turner and Anastacia with Staff at the Early Intervention Psychosis Team Away Day at Carrow Road. I got everyone to make coloured cone hats as a joke which was fun.

IMG_2546

Anastacia doing her presentation to the Early Intervention Psychosis Team

I first met Ruth when I was invited to do an event by the Chalk Circle Theatre Company last year. I was asked to talk about my journey and show my animations and work. This was the first time I had ever done anything like this and I was extremely nervous. I invited a representative from the NHS and Mind as both organisations have helped to fund the project. Maggie Wheeler who was the Chair of the NHS Trust and was also my mentor for the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project kindly asked Ruth to represent the Trust which is how I met her. The project has given me so many opportunities to meet people within the NHS and be involved with the Trust.

When Ruth asked me I was really pleased but also a bit nervous as I knew there would be around 40 staff there and I was also given around an hour to do the presentation, something I am not used to doing. I went in the week before to Carrow Road to make sure my Apple laptop worked on their projector and it was a good job I did as they had to get a special adapter. The presentation went really well and although I was a bit nervous to start with I noticed that I was much more confident that I thought I would be. I was asked so many questions by the staff and everyone seemed really interested in my journey and animations which was so nice and quite unexpected.

IMG_2539

Anastacia presenting which image of Yessica in the background

I stayed for the whole day and had lunch with the staff and was invited to join in staff group activities which was fun. Everyone was so nice and friendly and they made me feel really welcome. I was also asked by many staff if I would be interested in working with them in the future doing more talks and being involved in art with the team which I was really pleased about and was not expecting. I got some really good feedback from staff so that was really nice and I was pleased the talk was successful and helpful. Someone commented on the fact that I presented it by talking naturally about my journey and didn’t follow a plan. In the past I would never have been able to do this as talking about yourself is quite hard but I have noticed that I am less nervous and more confident for the first time in my life about public speaking and presenting, something I never thought I would be able to do without feeling nervous.

I think it is through my journey and experience, especially after the relapse I had last year and through the talking therapy I received from the NHS that has helped me with my confidence. Most of my life I feel I have wasted time worrying about what other people think of me, what if I muck up, what if something goes wrong, what if… but what if – so many if’s and but’s. I have learned slowly through experience that it really does not matter and once you conquer that fear you can find the confidence within yourself to no longer be afraid. We sometimes spend our lives living in fear so this really is an amazing gift which I feel I have gained through my mental health experience. Something good and positive has come from my journey and never in a million years did I ever think I would conquer my fears in talking to large groups and most importantly not worrying about it. To gain confidence is a wonderful thing, it can help you do so much more in life. To build confidence takes time and patience but the rewards are huge.

IMG_2540

Staff from the Early Intervention Team

IMG_2538

Peter Edge on the left at the Staff Away Day

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Peter Edge who works for the NHS was also at the event and it was really nice to see him there as he used to be my mentor for the project. Above is a Slideshow of images from the staff event.


1 Comment

Maggie Wheeler (Chair) is Leaving the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Thank you for being my mentor for the project.

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved Do not copy images or text or download.

Maggie Wheeler who has been Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is leaving the Trust after working there for over 10 years. I was really pleased to be invited to her leaving party. Below is a picture of Maggie with flowers she received and Graham Creelman who is the Non-Executive Director at the Trust. Graham made a speech at the party.

Maggie Wheeler, Chair and Graham Creelman Non Executive Director

Maggie Wheeler, Chair and Graham Creelman Non Executive Director

I was really sad to see Maggie leave, I have only known her for a very short time and she is a lovely kind person with a warm heart, she is also very bubbly and has a great sense of humor. Maggie has been one of my mentors for the Yessica’s Journey project and I would like to thank her for all her time and support, she has been a brilliant mentor and I will miss her.

Here is Maggie cutting her cake. Maggie is now the Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance and Chair of the Garage and is an Associate at Foresight Partnership.

IMG_1467

Maggie Wheeler cutting her cake

IMG_1478

B Maggies Leaving Party

There were lots of people at the party and some lovely food. Maggie received some gifts from the Trust including some lovely jewellery.

  IMG_1470 IMG_1471

Stephen Fletcher Chair of the Service Users Council making a speech

Graham Creelman, non executive Director of the Trust making a speech.Stephen Fletcher Chair of the Service Users Council also made a speech.

Below is a slide show of more images.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Leave a comment

Yessica’s Journey Presentation – Chalk Circle Theatre Company

© Copyright 2013 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

Chalk Circle Theatre Company Facebook
The British Association for the Person-Centred Approach
Kate Hayes Person-Centred Therapist
Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Website
Norfok and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Website
Five Ways to Wellbeing New Economics Foundation Website

Bit behind on my blogging…opps. Please take a look at Kate Hayes report about the event, at the end of this blog which is brilliant, thanks Kate for sending to me. On the 25th September 2012 last year I was thrilled to be asked to do a presentation about Yessica’s Journey and my art to a group of people invited through the Chalk Circle Theatre Company. The event was held in Norwich in the evening at Take Five and was a great success. The Chalk Circle held several events around the theme of mental health so I was so pleased that they asked me to be involved and for giving me the opportunity to show my artwork. Thank you to Suzanna Coppolina and Adina Levay for giving me the opportunity to show my work and for your kind invitation and support.

suzanna anastaca

Suzannah Coppolina Director Chalk Circle and Anastacia at Yessica’s Journey Presentation

Screenshot of Chalk Circle invite to the Yessica's Journey Event

Screenshot of Chalk Circle invite to the Yessica’s Journey Event

Quote from Suzannah Coppolina Director – ‘Chalk Circle is a newly established professional theatre company working in collaboration with local and international theatre practitioners. Our aim is to create contemporary, innovative, challenging and cutting-edge theatre in Norwich and the surrounding area. Last year we produced 4.48 Psychosis written by playwright Sarah Kane. Sarah Kane is one of the most powerful and controversial playwrights of our time and her plays have been widely performed in Europe and South America. We, at The Chalk Circle Theatre Company would like to support and raise awareness of mental health and aim to host panel discussions, rehearsed readings, art exhibits and workshops based around the subject matter within the play.’

Suzanna and Adina created a fantastic play which I went to see last year – 4.48 Psychosis written by Sarah Kane. Adina directed the play and Suzanna was the main actress in the play. They both created an outstanding play and I was hugely impressed with their talent and creativity.

I displayed some of my artwork from Yessica’s Journey on the wall and also some other artwork from the Five Ways to Wellbeing diary and the character Antony the ant. I also brought my stop motion puppet ‘Undine’ and various information about animation in general.

display

Anastacias artwork on display

Tim Burton is my favourite director and has influenced and inspired me a great deal. I bought one of his books along for people to look at – a very creative person and hugely talented. I also displayed an armature for a stop motion puppet which is like a skeleton for the character which allows the character to move and be manipulated into different positions. I also took some flick books and my Zoetrope and Praxinoscope which is one of the early methods of creating animation using illusion and a revolving wheel. I used to use these when I taught animation. I thought it would be interesting to not only show my artwork but also incorporate a little bit of animation history.

display table2

Anastacias artwork on display

The Praxinoscope has a circle of mirrors within its centre which reflect a strip of drawings located within the inner part of the spinning wheel. When the wheel spins at speed it gives the illusion of moving images. The images appear stationary whilst the wheel is turning. Each drawing shows a different movement and when run in order, in rapid succession one image after another and at speed they blend together to magically make the image appear to animate. This replaced the Zoetrope which was less effective as it only had narrow slits and no mirrors making the image hard to see. See image of Praxinoscope below.

display table

Praxinoscope with mirrors front left of picture

projector

My Apple Mac with artwork displayed and projector and speakers lent by Oz for the presentation

I took along my Apple Mac and had my artwork displayed on the projector screen changing every few seconds. Oz lent me his projector and speakers which was really useful. I also used this to show the showreel of my animation work which advertises the Yessica’s Journey project and my animation film ‘Undine’ which I completed for my degree which is around the same time that I became unwell so I felt it was relevant to the event.

oz

Oz Osborne talking about his involvement with Yessica’s Journey at the presentation

I invited Oz Osborne to be a guest speaker and also to introduce everyone who was talking at the event. Oz has been involved with the project from the beginning and has helped support me throughout. He has also helped with the writing of the script and is now the Production Manager for the project. He also works with the Human Library and Time to Change and is passionate about the Five Ways to Wellbeing which he also talked about.

anasta

Anastacia talking at the presentation

I was really nervous about talking in front of everyone and especially about my work and my mental health difficulties. I had no idea what I was going to say but everyone said I did OK so I was really pleased. My presentation was around 45 mins I think and I showed the films and answered a few questions afterwards. I am pleased I did it as it gave me a lot of confidence which I have always struggled with.

silvia

People at the presentaton. My friend Silvia came and the lady at the front is a Neurologist from New York who just happened to be in the pub.

There was a small group of people who came to attend the event so I was pleased. I met a Neurologist from New York and she was really interested in my art and creativity. Her partner and her just happened to be in the pub and wondered through and looked at my art and asked if they could attend which is lovely.

ruth

Ruth Turner Psychologist from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

Maggie Wheeler, Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust kindly asked Ruth Turner who is a psychologist to give a talk about the work of the Trust and Mental Health. I wanted to ask some of the organisations who were involved with supporting and funding the project and did not want the whole event to centre around my artwork as I thought this would make the event really interesting to people. Ruth was fantastic and everyone was really interested in what she was saying about the NHS. She explained information really clearly and she was asked many questions so clearly the audience had an interest which was nice to see.

It was really nice as I met up with Ruth at the Chalk Circle 4.48 Psychosis play several months later with some of her colleagues.

ruth close

Ruth Turner

kate2

Kate Hayes person-centred therapist from Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind

Kate Hayes is a person-centred therapist and a member of the co ordinating group for British Association for the Person-Centred Approach (BAPCA). She works for Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind. Thanks to Paola Colombo, Manager at Mind and Peter Gianfrancesco, Chief Executive of Mind for asking Kate to give a talk at the event. Mind are one of the funders for the project and Peter is my mentor for the project. Please see the brilliant report at the end of this blog from Kate who wrote about the event which was published in the membership Journal for the British Association for The Person- Centred Approach

kate

Kate Hayes talking at the event

Kate gave a really interesting talk and like Ruth there were plenty of questions from the audience. She did a fantastic job and it was really interesting to have two speakers from different backgrounds talking about mental health. Below is a picture of Kate and her son with Paola Colombo.

It is really nice as I have remained in contact with Kate and we sometimes meet up for a chat. She is also an artist so we have a lot in common.

Thank you to Ruth and Kate for coming to the event and giving your time to talk about your work, I do appreciate it. Thank you also to Oz for all your help and for coming to the event to talk and help me set up – thanks for your encouragement.

paola oz

Paola Colombo and Oz Osborne at the event talking

Below is some more photos of the event.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Article written by Kate Hayes, Person-Centred Therapist

© Copyright 2012 Kate Hayes. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text.

This Article was published in the membership Journal for the British Association for The Person- Centred Approach www.bapca.org.uk

Yessica’s Journey, Chalk Circle, Frank Bruno and the person-centred approach.

It’s been an interesting month.

I have been fortunate enough to be introduced to a radical new theatre company called Chalk Circle. The company have started rehearsals for a production of the Sara Kane Play 4.48 Psychosis. The play starts in Norwich on November 8th at The Garage. The company has links to Norwich Mind and as a result of a discussion with a colleague I was invited along to meet the actors as they wanted to ask me questions about therapeutic approaches to psychosis and suicide. It was a daunting task.

Sara Kane, the author of the play committed suicide after writing it and the actors were struggling with how to represent the author sensitively and accurately. My contribution was minimal but many questions, some I could answer and others I couldn’t, were put my way. What I could say was how historically ways of ‘treating’ and supporting people who were experiencing distress have been under developed as the medicalization of distress has been the norm. I was able to share that there are creative and empathic ways to be alongside people in distress that are beginning to become more visible in society and have been around for more than half a century and are present within the Person-Centred approach, the Soteria network and Positive Psychology.

Chalk Circle encourage other artists and subsequently I was invited to attend an evening introducing Anastacia Tohill’s animation’ Yessica’s Journey’. Anastacia experienced a ‘psychotic breakdown’ as she chooses to describe it, at the age of 41 when she was at Art School. She courageously continued with her final show work ‘Undine’. She explained how she discovered a new depth and level of creativity as she struggled through her harrowing experience. This prompted her to make a film all about her experience; the project is named ‘Yessica’s Journey’. It is anticipated to be ready in three years and is going to be part of an awareness raising campaign around Mental Health Difficulties, Psychosis and Wellbeing – helping people to understand as well as challenge the stigma and discrimination associated with it.  On September 24th at take 5 in Norwich she exhibited some of the drawings and designs for the animation. Anastacia invited myself, a clinical psychologist Ruth Turner and Oz Osborne from Stuff Stigma, The Human Library and Time to Change to talk about approaches to psychosis and mental health. I called my talk ‘Psychosis A natural reaction to a distressing world?’.

I had not shared a platform with a Norfolk clinical psychologist before and as I was being introduced by Oz who was talking intensely to her in a corner, I thought I’d best speak with him before the evening started. As I approached I was interested to hear Ruth explaining to Oz how the only way of contacting people in distress is not through CBT but through listening to them and validating their experience. ..and then they calm down. On further discussion she explained she had studied Stephen Joseph and Gillian Proctors work for a dissertation she’d written about positive psychological attitudes to carers for dementia. She knew about post traumatic growth and fully accepted that rather than trying to persuade people to think differently, if you accept ‘where they are’ they can move towards growth. I appreciate this is not news to us, but for me this was an exciting dialogue as my local trust has been traditionally disinterested in the person-centred approach and now it seemed a  chink of light is opening up.

Anastacia’s brief animation Undine, made during her breakdown, was a remarkable film. The film is set in a farmyard  as a young woman‘s head opens the sequence in stark relief as a pair of scissors cuts her long hair and sobbing and the slicing scissors punctuate the image. The woman progresses through a journey moving through darkness to light in a beautifully illustrated and coloured animation. The film held a depth of sadness and distress but it was also surrounded by beauty and hope. Anastacia’s vision has developed throughout her process of growth and after 4 years of determination she has attracted the level of funding she felt she needed to create the work ‘Yessica’s Journey’. She managed to get some talking therapy recently which she feels is part of the key to her ongoing growth process. This is being provided by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and is incredibly hard to access. The people I see through the NHS are not under the mental health team and traditionally the only interventions offered are CBT and medication.

The evening was packed with interesting talks. I have already written about the Human Library in a previous PCQ. Oz is the person who brought it to the UK from Denmark. It originated from a music festival where there were so many different gangs and tribes in attendance they evolved this idea of a person being ‘a book’ that can be borrowed and listened to in order to effect mediation between differences. The project has grown and tours the country breaking down prejudice and stigma.

Ruth Turner spoke mainly about the early intervention service that works with young people who have had a first psychotic episode. They have three years of access to the team and services include taking them to University by taxi in order to attend lectures. It’s clearly a service that struggles with ethical dilemmas and also does not seem to have a counselling facility in built. Ruth seemed frustrated by forms and inconsistencies in the service and was not afraid to say that the system often makes people worse.

I was next and I acknowledged and responded to Anastacia’s film. At events such as these it’s easy for moments to ‘get lost’ and I wished to bring the focus back to the remarkable work we had seen an hour before. I shared my strong sense that the film and her process felt like a beautiful demonstration of the actualising tendency coming through her distress. She is achieving exactly what she wishes to achieve and as a result will impact on other people’s lives.  She beamed brilliantly back at me. I shared how it had made me think about the creative aspects of the person- centred approach and how Carl Rogers’ daughter Natalie had developed her own expressive arts therapy called the ‘creative connection’ and that this had evolved as a therapeutic approach in itself. I mentioned I had run certificates at the UEA on ‘contacting the creative self’ and this aspect of nurturing growth is recognised and supported by person-centred practitioners. I explained some of the theory around the approach, the importance and valuing of coming alongside a person, of listening to them, acknowledging their experience as valid for them and offering warmth and acceptance. I explained how in 1996 I had tried to offer counselling at a local support centre for people who had experienced severe breakdowns, called Bridges  as I felt strongly then that people who had gone through breakdowns or severe mental and emotional distress would benefit from person-centred processes. But there was no funding and the concern was that so many people would want it there would not be enough therapists to offer it.

Right up to the present day this valuable resource has not been introduced in to the mental health trust and their focus on medication and CBT remains intact. I introduced the philosophy around the Soteria network and Soteria houses. I also referred to the work of Dion Van Verde and the wards he runs in Belgium based on the Pre Therapy approach developed by Prouty and its growing influence in the UK. The multi-cultural audience was of a broad age ranging from seven to early seventies. I nicked (but attributed) Richard Bentalls phrases ‘social inequality drives people crazy, racial discrimination drives people crazy, Cities drive people crazy, Gay bi and transgender discrimination drives people crazy. My talk was more a dialogue and people were clearly keen to speak out about the medicalization of distress and appreciated the view that often natural responses were turned into and identified as illness. I also spoke about BAPCA, how it is open to a broad range of practitioners who are involved with or interested in the person-centred approach, the practitioner research network and our intention to gather evidence. I mentioned Frank Bruno’s visit to a charity event for Norwich and Norfolk Central Mind and how he expressed very strong feeling about the focus on medication and how there was a need for alternative therapies to be used.  I referred to Ben Goldacre’s article in the Guardian that had been published that weekend about the drug industry and mentioned Robert Whitaker’s books.

At the end I shared this quote from Carl Rogers ‘the curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change’.

This was well received and I hope that those who were at the talk will now naturally consider the person-centred approach as a way of being that is accessible to all. I also posed the idea that we are still evolving emotionally and that was welcomed by many within the group.

My son Jo who had come to support me reassured me I had done a good job and at the end said to me ‘The solutions to mental health drives people crazy’.

Here’s hoping that state of affairs may soon change.

Quote from Anastacia, the artist: –  ‘I thoroughly enjoyed the evening and feel it has helped me a great deal with my confidence, something which is very important in helping people with mental health difficulties. I would like to thank Suzanna Coppolina Company Director and Adina Levay Artistic Director for giving me the opportunity to share and talk about my work at the ‘Chalk Circle’ event. I would also like to thank Oz Osborne who gave a talk about his role on the project and his work with Time to Change, Rethink and the Human Library. Kate Hayes, Accredited Therapist and Ruth Turner, NHS Psychologist for giving up their time to talk at the event. I thought all the talks were so interesting and informative and clearly by the reaction of the people asking questions there was a great deal of interest which was lovely to see. It was clear to see how passionate people are about their work. Thank you also to Maggie Wheeler, Chair of the NHS Trust, Peter Gianfrancesco Chief Executive of Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind and Paola Colombo Mind Inclusion Manager for your support.’

‘Yessica’s Journey’ is an animation project about my journey through mental health difficulties and how I learned and developed a healing process to improve my wellbeing. The project is anticipated to be completed in 2015 and incorporates Stop Motion and 2D animation. The film is funded by, The Wellcome Trust, Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind, The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, and has also been supported by Rethink and the Bipolar Disorder Research Network. The film incorporates the New Economics Foundation Five Ways to Wellbeing – Connect, Be active, Take notice, Keep learning, and Give. It is hoped that by showing a small glimpse of someone’s lived experience that it will help to educate and enhance people’s understanding, give people hope, and help to end and challenge the stigma and discrimination associated with it. It is also hoped that it highlights the importance of improving your wellbeing and encourages creativity in people, something which is very important. As a Freelance Artist I specialise in Animation and Illustration. I use mixed media styles, combining traditional with digital methods to create unique and meaningful art.’ For further information please see website links. Yessica’s Journey Website: http://www.yessicasjourney.com https://yessicasjourney.wordpress.com/ | Anastacia’s Website: http://www.anastaciatohill.co.uk

Kate Hayes Mbacp (acc) http://www.counselling-and-psychotherapy.org/


Leave a comment

Fruits of the Mind Exhibition at the Forum in Norwich 2012

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. 

The Well Website – Norwich Based Art Group

The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

The Fruits of the Mind Exhibition was held in Norwich over three days at the Forum. The exhibition is organised by ‘The Well’ in collaboration with the ‘Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’. It gives people with mental health difficulties an opportunity to exhibit and sell their work which is fantastic.

The Fruits of the Mind Exhibition showing artwork at the Forum

I went on Thursday 13th September for the opening  and exhibited two artworks. I exhibited a digital print called ‘Dragon Wing Faery’ which I created several years ago. I used mixed media styles with digital Photoshop and Coral Painter combining a collage of real leaves scanned in. I was thrilled to sell it to my friend Silvia and it is the first time I have ever sold anything in an exhibition which is great.

Anastacia’s Artwork – ‘Dragon Wing Faery’ Digital Print Sold at the exhibition

Anastacias Artwork exhibited at the Fruits of the Mind Exhibition with other Artists

I also exhibited an original painting called ‘The Joy of Life’ which I created for the exhibition. I used mixed media – Watercolour, Acrylic, Pencil and Pen with a splash of glitter. Unfortunately I did not sell this painting but it was great to be given the opportunity to display it and I got some very good feedback which was nice.

Anastacias original painting ‘The Joy of Life’ created using mixed media – watercolour, acrylic, pen and pencil and a splash of glitter

Maggie Wheeler, Chair of the Trust at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust opened the exhibition and gave an interesting talk about the importance of art with people who experience mental health difficulties, and the exhibition.

Maggie Wheeler, Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust opening the exhibition

Maggie Wheeler, Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Trust opening the exhibition

Thea and Sandy from ‘The Well’  both helped organise the exhibition with Rachael Kenyon from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust.

Thea and Sandy from ‘The Well’ who helped to organise the Exhibition

Quote from The Well Website ‘The Well is a Norwich based art group for people living with mental distress. The Well formed in June 2006 to provide support and development for artists in Norfolk who experience mental distress. It is run by the artists for the artists and has a membership of around fourteen people.’

Thea and Sandy from ‘The Well’ who helped to organise the Exhibition

Below is a slideshow of all the images I took at the exhibition.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The exhibition was hugely successful and 14 pieces of artwork were sold at the exhibition. The Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust also had a stand at the Forum to support the exhibition. I really enjoyed exhibiting my work and seeing the amazing creative work from the other artists.


Leave a comment

Success for Time to Change Village at the Forum in Norwich on 1st September 2012

Time to Change Website Article about Event
© Dan LeBrun flickr Photos of Time to Change Norwich Village Event
© Edwards flickr Photos of Time to Change Norwich Village Event

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. 

Anastacia at the Time to Change Village, TTC Co-ordinator

The Time to Change Village visited Norwich on Saturday the 1st September outside the Forum in Norwich. The event was a huge success and it was estimated that over 2,000 people engaged in a conversation about Mental Health during the event. The Time to Change campaign is about challenging the stigma and discrimination associated with Mental Health through engagement and talking with the public. The event was organised by Oz Osborne and Sarah James who both work for Time to Change. I thought they both did a fantastic job in organising such a successful event. There is so much work which goes into organising these events which often go unnoticed, they both worked extremely hard.

Anastacia and Oz Osborne on the Village Green Bench outside the Time to Change Cinema

Paola Colombo Inclusion Manager from Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind – TTC Volunteer Co-ordinator with her Son and Sarah James, one of the organisers who works for Time to Change

Quote from Oz Osborne ‘The Village is a ‘pop-up’ community engagement activity, which creates interactive spaces for volunteers with lived experience of mental health problems to engage with the public. Each of these ‘social contacts’ are designed to facilitate positive changes in attitudes and behaviours towards people with mental health problems.’
The village includes a Cinema showing Time to Change Films, a Post Office where you can post a postcard to a friend, a Tea Room where you can get free Teas and Coffees, a Surgery offering lots of information about Mental Health and organisations, a library – The Human Library where books are people and when you borrow a book to read, the book is a person who you have a conversation with. It also has a Village Green and Newsagent. There were many activities at the event where people could learn more about the Time to Change Campaign and interact and have conversations about Mental Health. These included Face Painting, Painting and Drawing, Singing/Musicians, Making a Bracelet, Plant Potting and Photo Pledging for Time to Change.

Rachel’s Friend painting a picture

People posing for Portrait Painting

Dressing up at the Time to Change Village

The Human Library where you can borrow a book to read – a book is a person who you can have a real conversation with and learn more about that subject from people with lived experience

The Village also had some Street Theatre from the Chalk Circle Theatre Company. Quote from Suzanna Coppolina Company Director ‘Chalk Circle is a newly established professional theatre company working in collaboration with local and international theatre practitioners. Our aim is to create contemporary, innovative, challenging and cutting-edge theatre in Norwich and the surrounding area. This year we will be producing 4.48 Psychosis written by playwright Sarah Kane. Sarah Kane is one of the most powerful and controversial playwrights of our time and her plays have been widely performed in Europe and South America. We, at The Chalk Circle Theatre Company would like to support and raise awareness of mental health and aim to host panel discussions, rehearsed readings, art exhibits and workshops based around the subject matter within the play.’
There were around 70 volunteers who helped at the event who were people with lived experience or carers. Time to Change also employed some co-ordinators for the event so I was thrilled to be asked to be a Time to Change Co-ordinator for the day. I would like to thank Time to Change for employing me which is very kind of them. Although I was nervous about taking on this role initially, I thoroughly enjoyed the day and although very tired by the end, I was so pleased I had been given such a fantastic opportunity. Volunteers  and co-ordinators were also offered training before the event which was very informative and helpful. Time to Change are very supportive and caring about the people who work with them and the volunteers. They made me feel so welcome and valued and that I was actually doing something positive to help challenge attitudes towards people who experience Mental Health difficulties. It really helped me with my confidence, it takes quite a lot of courage to go up to people and start a conversation but the more you do it the easier it gets and I met so many amazing and interesting people on the day.

Gemma Nicholls one of the Volunteer Co-ordinators  at the Time to Change Event outside the Post Office in the Time to Change Village

Maddie and Dandelion performing at the Time to Change Village Event

The Village had a Cinema where people could watch a showreel of different Time to Change films which I helped to produce and has been used all around the country, something I am very proud of.  I was asked to be the co-ordinator of this part of the Village and thoroughly enjoyed talking to people and encouraging them to watch the films in the cinema. I had some very interesting and emotional conversations during the day. The overwhelming favourite film was the speech bubble one about the bipolar date, people really liked this and they liked the humor. Several people who work in mental health and education even wanted a copy of the showreel.

Anastacia as a Time to Change Co-ordinator outside the entrance to the Village Cinema where a Time to Change Mental Health Showreel was playing

It was fantastic to see Maggie Wheeler who is the Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and the Chair of the Service Users Council Stephen Fletcher visit the Time to Change Village. I also saw many friends including my good friend Rachel who I have known for many years.

Maggie Wheeler Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Oz Osborne one of the organisers of the Time to Change Village

Stephen Fletcher, Chair of the Service Users Council at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Helen at the Time to Change Village event

Anastacia and my friend Rachel on the Village Green Bench outside the Time to Change Cinema

The day was a huge success and I can’t wait for the next Time to Change Event. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute, it was fantastic. I spoke to so many people, who were all very positive about the event and I talked non stop all day to the point that I ended up with a sore throat and was exhausted the next day. I had so many amazing and inspiring conversations with people, which at times made me feel quite emotional but also gave me an overwhelming feeling of inspiration and wanting to help and reassure people. It has made me realise just how much I love talking to people and helping them in a small way. It also gave me a much needed huge boost to my confidence. I met people who had their own mental health difficulties, people who knew nothing about mental health or TTC and I also met quite a few professionals who work in mental health. A nurse, someone who works on the Waveney ward at Hellesdon and a paramedic and someone who worked at Rethink. All the conversations I had were positive and obviously a few were emotional. Even people who did not have time to stop were courteous and very friendly and often would just take a postcard or leaflet from me.
I thought the Village and whole idea of interacting and engaging with the public is brilliant. All the activities, the singing, cinema, teas and coffees and volunteers were so effective. I also think that having it at the Forum worked really well. The steps provide a place for people to sit down and watch and also enabled me to go up to quite a few people to talk. The atmosphere was great, really buzzing and electric.
Thank you and well done to everyone involved in such a successful and rewarding day. And lastly a lovely picture of Sheila, Paola’s friends dog. Animals are part of Villages and dogs have mental health too and Sheila clearly enjoyed having her picture taken and visiting the Time to Change Village – good for her wellbeing.

Sheila enjoying the Time to Change Village Event


Leave a comment

Article about New Bipolar UK Self Help Group in Norwich for Mind Associates Magazine

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. Screenshot from Mind Associates Magazine Simon Barker. Quotes from Chris Stokes, Gemma Nicholls and Janet Conway

Bipolar UK Website

Norwich Bipolar UK Self Help Group Contact – norwich@bipolarukgroups.org.uk

Screenshot from the Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind Associates Magazine showing article about the new self help group which I organised

I was thrilled to be asked by Simon Barker to write an article for the Mind Associates Magazine about the new Bipolar UK Self Help Group in Norwich.  Simon is a Mind First Aid Manager and Mind Associate for the Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind organisation. See screenshot above of final article which looks great.
I decided to ask the Facilitator of the group who first initiated the idea to have a group in Norwich to write the main piece for the article – Chris Stokes. I also asked Gemma Nicholls who is also helping to facilitate the group for a quote and Janet Conway who is the Group Development Officer at Bipolar UK.  I organised the article and was pleased to have it published in the magazine.
I am so pleased that a group like this has been set up in Norwich and it will help many people who have Bipolar as well as their families, friends and carers. I wish the group well and I know it will be a huge success. The turnout for the first meeting was well attended. Unfortunately I can’t attend the meetings but I have joined the mailing list which will keep me informed of what the group is doing. They intend getting interesting speakers at some of their group meetings and have invited Maggie Wheeler, Chair of the NHS Trust and Janet Conway from Bipolar UK to talk at the next meeting in October.
Below is the article I helped to organise which you can read more clearly for further information.

22/8/2012 Article for ‘Associates Magazine’ Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind 398 words

New Norwich Bipolar UK Self-Help Group

Bipolar UK Logo

First Meeting 6th September 6.30pm-8.30pm
Meetings:  First Thursday of each month
Quaker (Friends) Meeting House
Upper Goat Lane
Norwich NR2 1EW
For further information contact Chris Stokes and Gemma Nicholls at: norwich@bipolarukgroups.org.uk
Bipolar UK Website:  www.bipolaruk.org.uk

Chris Stokes: Group Facilitator

‘The Quaker (Friends) Meeting House is conveniently situated in the heart of the city and the room which we shall use for our meetings is comfortable and easily accessible on the ground floor.’

‘When I was diagnosed with bipolar last year after 30 years of misdiagnosis, what I really wanted most of all wasn’t to read books about bipolar or to look at websites about bipolar, but to meet somebody with bipolar and ask some questions. How would I cope? Is bipolar a death sentence? What are the medications like? But when I tried to find a bipolar group in Norwich, I realised there wasn’t one. That’s why I decided to start one. I believe that our new group, organised as part of the wonderful national charity Bipolar UK, will be a huge asset to Norwich and a lifeline for people with bipolar, their carers and their families.’

‘Anyone whose life is affected by bipolar is welcome at our meetings.  You can attend as many or as few meetings as you like, you’re free to leave whenever you want, and you don’t have to speak if you don’t feel like it, although everyone will have the opportunity to do so.’

Gemma Nicholls: Group Facilitator

‘The planning meeting held in July was well attended so this bodes well for the future of the group and shows just how important and needed a self help group is in Norwich. There was a lot of positive energy in the room to make this a success and the turnout suggests that the group will become invaluable for many people affected by bipolar. I look forward to the start.’

Janet Conway: Group Development Officer at Bipolar UK

‘We at Bipolar UK are delighted that a new self-help group for people affected by the bipolar condition is being launched in Norwich. As the only national charity dedicated to supporting people affected by bipolar, we rely a great deal on the willing volunteers who run our national network of self-help groups, and who do so much to raise awareness of the condition and to support people in their own communities.’


Leave a comment

Maggie Wheeler and Roz Brooks from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are the New NHS Representatives for ‘Yessica’s Journey’

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Website

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill, Yessica’s Journey Blog. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. Images taken by Diane Smith who works at the NHS.

Maggie Wheeler Chair of the Trust from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia – Yessica’s Journey Meeting

I was thrilled to have a meeting with Maggie Wheeler, who is the Chair of the Trust and Roz Brooks who is the Director of Nursing, Patient Safety and Quality at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – Hellesdon Hospital. After having to cancel many meetings I finally got to show them some of the development of the work for the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project. I showed them my portfolio of designs including some of the sound and models from the project. I really enjoyed showing them the work and they both seemed really interested in how the project was progressing. I am also pleased to announce that Maggie and Roz are now officially the NHS Representatives for the project which is amazing.

Quote from Maggie and Roz  “we are so pleased to be associated with this fantastic project. It will really help people understand mental ill health in an accessible way. We were fascinated to learn about how animated films are made, and the time and skill it takes. We are really looking forward to seeing the final result”

I would like to thank Maggie and Roz for their time and for giving me the opportunity to show them the development of  ‘Yessica’s Journey’. Also huge thanks for being my representatives, I really appreciate it. I would also like to thank Diane Smith who took these lovely pictures of Maggie and me, I really like them and she has done a fantastic job.

Maggie Wheeler Chair of the Trust from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust and Anastacia – Yessica’s Journey Meeting


Leave a comment

Insight Magazine Article – Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – Yessica’s Journey Exhibited at the Fruits of Mind Exhibition

The Well Artists Website

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Website – Insight Magazine

© Copyright 2012 Anastacia Tohill. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images or text. © Copyright – Some text and screenshots taken from the Insight Magazine from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust

‘More than 40 artists with mental health problems exhibited their work at the annual Fruits of the Mind exhibition in Norwich. The exhibition, organised jointly with the Well artists’ collective – took place at the Forum. Around £500 worth of artwork was sold, comprising around one picture in every five. Many artists were exhibiting for the first time, and some were delighted to collect cash rather than their paintings at the end of the week.’

‘Many encouraging comments were left in the visitors’ book, and the curators from the Well had many interesting discussions with members of the public about mental health and art.’

‘If you would like to be involved in organising the next exhibition, or setting up an artists’ co-operative in your locality, contact helen.simpson@nwmhp.nhs.uk
You can find out more about the Well by visiting www.thewellartists.co.uk’
(Quotes and text taken from Spring Insight Magazine Article – © Copyright Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust)

I exhibited 2 pieces of Artwork at the Fruits of the Mind exhibition last year. To see blog article and Artwork displayed please click on link  (Blog Article of Fruits of the Mind Exhibition 10th-14th October at the Forum Norwich)

Yessica’s First Character Design which I exhibited can be seen in the Insight Magazine Article. She is just peeping through in the background which I thought was quite good. I was thrilled to see her there. See screenshot below taken from the Insight Magazine. I have added text to show the Illustration in the background.

Artists Exhibit Fruits of the Mind Exhibition including Yessica’s Journey

The NHS and the Well do a fantastic job of displaying artists work who have experienced mental health difficulties. I was thrilled to be involved. It was great to be given the opportunity and this is the first time I have exhibited my artwork so it meant a lot to me.

Screenshot of Insight Magazine Cover

Above is a screenshot of the Cover of the Insight Magazine from the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust. Images of Maggie Wheeler who is the Chair and Aidan Thomas who is the Chief Executive.

The Insight Magazine is published on a quarterly basis and can be downloaded from the website. For more information and to contribute an article please phone the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust – Trust Communications on 01603 421494 | email: communications@nsft.nhs.uk

You can become a member of the Trust and can receive the magazine in printed format as well as downloadable format. Please visit Membership at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust



Leave a comment

Exciting News – The Wellcome Trust has given additional funding to the Yessica’s Journey Animation Project

The Wellcome Trust Website

© Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Please do not copy or download images/text.

FANTASTIC NEWS for 2012 The Wellcome Trust has kindly given additional funding to the
‘Yessica’s Journey’ Animation Project – Thank You.

In March 2012 Yessica’s Journey’ has been successful in applying for additional funding from the Wellcome Trust. They have kindly given a substantial sum of money in addition to their original funding for the project. I would like to thank Marie-Lise Sheppard who is the Grants Advisor and works in Grants Management for her support, help and understanding. I would also like to thank the Wellcome Trust organisation for its continued support and for believing in this project.

Anastacia Tohill, Director/Producer and Animator for the project and Charlie Gauvain who is the new Support Coordinator for the project and works as a Producer/Executive Producer at Eye Film and TV  successfully put in an application in January 2012 to apply for additional funding. Oz Osborne, Wellbeing Mentor and one of the Scriptwriters for the project and works at Time to Change also contributed to the funding application. I would like to thank Charlie and Oz for all their support and help and also to welcome Charlie to the project in his new role.

I would also like to thank the following people and organisations for their continued help and for their supportive Testimonials which we sent with the funding application form. Thank you for your kind words, encouragement and time.

Oz Osborne – Rural Equalities Coordinator with Time to Change and Freelance Community Wellbeing Mentor
Peter Gianfrancesco – Chief Executive at Norwich and Central Norfolk Mind
Peter Edge – The Wellbeing Service at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
Maggie Wheeler – Chair of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
Roz Brooks – Director of Nursing, Quality and Patient Safety, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
Michel SyrettEditor, Pendulum Magazine Bipolar UK
Clare Dolman – Research Editor Pendulum and Chair of the National Bipolar Charity Bipolar UK (formerly MDF the Bipolar Organisation)
Dr Ian Jones – Reader in Perinatal Psychiatry, MRC Centre for Neuropsychiatric Genetics and Genomics,Department of Psychological Medicine and Neurology BDRN Research Network

I appreciate all the organisations continued support with the project and everyone in the project team who has helped with the ‘Yessica’s Journey’ project. We also sent the Script Feedback document which many people contributed to last year with the application. Thank you again to everyone who contributed to the Script Feedback Document.

Many Thanks to Everyone
Anastacia