A studio of designer-makers in touch with mental health services
Mental health stigma can be a bigger burden that the illness itself.
Designs in Mind started within NHS Day Care Services in the late 80s for adults in mental health services. Their intention was not to run an arts and craft group, but to see individuals with lots of potential working together to create beautiful, desirable products.
Commissioners and buyers of their work were impressed by the quality, often embarrassed as they say, 'but your work is so professional'. Their experience is that people expect low quality work from a community group and assume that adults living with mental illness can't learn high level skills. The predominant culture is one of low expectations.
JOLT is one of the retail brands to come out of Designs in Mind in response to the positive reactions they were seeing to the work of their members and exists to challenge the culture of low expectation that surrounds people with mental illness.
JOLT is a homeware brand with products created by a diverse group of makers referred through mental health services. Members are living with serve and enduring mental health issues including depression, psychosis, schizophrenia, stress, anxiety, social phobia and bipolar.
JOLT supports adults to build their self-worth and become active members of society through creating a positive social network, giving members a sense of purpose and possibility for the future and offering opportunities to experiment with artistic techniques and challenges.
They create a small, supportive peer led environment where the focus is on the development of creative skills and confidence of their members to produce high quality retail products and public art commissions. They offer challenges to suit individual members, allowing people to move forward at their own pace.
100% of sales revenue goes towards sustaining and developing the work of Designs in Mind.
Members are active in contributing to the development of the organisations, brining experience and skills from previous roles. They are supported by a team of 8 staff and 15 volunteers who bring with them skills in design, making, retail, business, social enterprise, facilitation, coaching, fundraising, marketing, production and construction.
"I struggle with suicide daily. I wouldn't go out at all. I was very hesitant coming here. Now I'm here, I really look forward to coming. Before I had nothing to look forward to. It's given me the opportunity to meet people. A long time ago I was creative, this has re-awakened an interest."
Last year members had opportunities to learn 15 making and design skills, 50 people had increased confidence and better emotional health and wellbeing and 5 people moved on from the service into employment or training. From a questionnaire of 24 members, 100% said they had made friends and learnt skills to work with others, including contributing ideas and collaboration.