As an extension of our psychology course, we visited the Bethlem Museum of The Mind in Beckenham. During this day we were able to partake in a number of activities and gain an insight into both the history of Bethlem and the work that they currently do.
The first workshop that we attended was about the ‘History of Bethlem and mental health treatment’ which was delivered by a museum director. In this session we learned about the role of Bethlem over the past few centuries, providing care to those who are mentally ill. The speaker also clarified and debunked common myths and preconceptions that people may have of the Bethlem hospital and mental illness.
Our second session was a talk from Mary Yates, a nurse consultant at the hospital. This was enlightening as we were able to gain an in-depth understanding of what exactly her career entails and we were also given the opportunity to ask her more questions about her field as well as her experiences as a nurse consultant.
As it transpired, she is very keen to promote physical health as she believes there is a strong link between physical and mental health so she focuses on getting patients to stop ‘self-medicating’ and to take up exercise. She is also working on restorative justice and provided insight into how the forensics department works.
We did a tour of the museum and gallery during lunchtime and found the artefacts used to treat mentally ill patients in the past quite shocking but informative.
In our third session we critically analysed a piece of artwork called ‘The Maze’ by Ukrainian artist, William Kurelek. The patient was unable to speak to doctors so he used his art to communicate his issues. Our job was to try to decipher the art to see how much we could understand about his background and all the events that had happened to him that lead to him being ill. We also had to try and work out what he was diagnosed with.
Overall, this day was very beneficial as it further informed our understanding of mental health and the mind, as well as giving us an insight into how it is both treated and approached in the real world. It was a lovely relaxed day out which was a nice post-exam experience and allowed both the students and teachers to interact in the beautiful grounds of Bethlem.
By Dijonay Wedderburn and Shleena Coulson (Y12 Psychology students)