Monday 23 June 2014, 11:54 | By

In the News June 2014 – Care, Art Therapy, Apps For Mental Health

CSL In The News

There are various elements to the Creative Skills For Life mission. We believe that more focus and funding should be given to palliative care, that creativity has a key role to play in providing such care, and that digital channels and tools can be used to deliver it.

June News Review

CSL is achieving its mission by promoting these beliefs to the health, political, creative and digital communities, by demonstrating the value of such approach through original research, and by providing funding and business advice to innovative and creative digital healthcare projects.
And to that end we keep an eye on other people and projects doing similar things, with a number of interesting developments to report on this month.

CARE FOR THE DYING – CONFRONTING BRITAIN’S TABOO SUBJECT
Tackling what he acknowledges as one of Britain’s “taboo subjects”, the BBC’s Nick Triggle recently discussed the latest report from the Royal College Of Physicians which described the standards of care for the dying as ‘deeply worrying’.

The new report echoed observations from the Department Of Health’s cancer plan in 2000, which noted too many patients experience “distressing symptoms, poor care and inadequate communication”. Triggle also notes that half of deaths happen in hospital, yet 80% of those who died in hospital had previously said they wanted to die at home, attributing this sad fact to the “scarcity of hospice and community palliative care services in some areas”.

Triggle’s observation about the taboo is death seems to be a key consideration in this domain. Because to achieve better care in the long-term, we need to encourage open conversation about this issue in the short-term.

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ART THERAPIES IN HEALTHCARE
As for the role of creativity in providing effective palliative care, two recent articles on the value of art therapy have caught our eye.

The first from Medical News Today explained the effects of music on the brain as it increases blood flow to the left hemisphere, encouraging the release of endorphins. More importantly, the article also cited a report from researchers in Taiwan that suggested people living with cancer who “routinely listen to music exhibit significantly fewer symptoms of depression, pain, fatigue and anxiety”.

The second report – this time, from India – explains how arts therapies are being prescribed to people who have cancer. Researcher, scholar and art therapist Archana Singh told IANS: “Expressive arts therapy helps improve the mental, emotional and social conditions of patients. Its well-established soothing power has a unique link to our emotions, which is extremely effective in reliving the stress level of the patients. It therefore helps in curing the illness”.

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NEW APPS TO COMBAT MENTAL HEALTH CONDITIONS
In the digital domain, work is now well underway on the innovative digital tools that won funding from the CSL competition run with Creative England last year. One is an app that aims to help young people facing life threatening conditions and mental health issues.

Developed by Foundation For Art And Creative Technology in conjunction with CSL, Red Ninja Media and Mersey Care NHS Trust, In Hand is a personal interactive recovery guide, providing individuals with the tools to manage and understand their own wellbeing. The app allows users to communicate how they are feeling, and empowers them by suggesting a series of practical actions to help them overcome feelings of stress, anxiety or depression.

In a similar field, we were recently encouraged to see an app being developed and tested for people with bi-polar disorder to manage the condition. The app monitors the user’s phone conversation, logging subtle variations in tone of voice to help indicate changes in mood. Researchers at University of Michigan told mHealth Watch that the app “will yield a biological marker to prioritise bipolar disorder care to those who need it most urgently to stabilise their moods – especially in regions of the world with scarce mental health services.” They also suggest that the technology “could also help people with other conditions”.