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Opportunity knocks for talented mental health patients

​Opportunity knocked for people facing mental health challenges when a Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) nurse held a talent show and Christmas party for service users.

With around 30 patients attending the event, some of them showed they had the X factor when they took to the stage at Foxhall Community Centre in Ipswich on Wednesday, 20 December.

The acts included DJs, comedy, musical instrument playing, singing, and dancing. The event was also attended by guest artistes, the Suffolk Soul Singers.

Michael Olaleye (pictured), who is a Community Mental Health Practitioner based in Ipswich, organised the event for patients receiving care from the Coastal Integrated Delivery Team (IDT) for serious depression, psychosis and anxiety.

He approached local charity, The Ropes Trust, to secure funding for the event, then invited members of the Walking and Activity Group (WAG), which he set up nearly three years ago to help service users make friends, build confidence and socialise.

Michael said: “Creative expression is a key component of any recovery programme. This event not only helped patients to rediscover their passion for music but also had a therapeutic component since it helped clients learn healthy ways to express their emotions.”

One patient, who was mixing different sources of his pre-recorded music as it was playing live to the audience, noted his "satisfaction at being able to express himself through his own style of music".

A highlight of the evening was a duo performance by one patient’s skilful guitar playing and singing being complemented by another's supporting vocal. Following a standing ovation, he said: "I really enjoyed that."

An IDT senior nurse, Katie Croome, who presented certificates of achievement to patients who have shown exceptional resilience, motivation and dedication in their recovery journey, applauded the event.

Dr Shafy Muthalif, an IDT Coastal consultant psychiatrist, who was also at the event, described the WAG as "one of the essential psychosocial activities IDT Coastal patients are privileged to tap into."

WAG runs on alternate Wednesdays to give patients receiving care for serious depression, psychosis and anxiety the opportunity to socialise, interact, build confidence, develop new skills, and realise they are not alone.

When the group meets, patients share positive experiences, have a general chat over some refreshments before walking together to the nearby venue where activities include various board games, table tennis, bop-it, chess and air hockey, and occasionally they meet for a meal (WAG Meal Together).

These periodic meals together have been noted to have better physical/mental health and socialisation outcomes.

Studies indicate there are multiple benefits to eating together:

  • A sit-down meal with family, friends and acquaintances provides an opportunity to learn and imbibe the skills and rituals that may help to integrate people into the larger community


  • It helps people to spend some time getting to know and interact with each other and forge a better group spirit


  • Regular meals together are associated with better mental and physical health and improved socialisation.


Michael added: “WAG has really been an important part of the psychosocial elements of our patients’ treatment and recovery programmes.

“And it’s all thanks to The Ropes Trust, who have been unflinching in their support in funding most of our activities and events.”

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