Communities with Mental Health challenges

From Community Narrations

Name of Community[edit]

People experiencing mental crises. A community of participants of self-help clubs in Gdynia.

Poland, Gdynia

Socio-Economic Situation[edit]

Adults experiencing psychological or mental illness. They are people with experience of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression and others. Often with low social competences and insufficient resourcefulness in life, which due to the past psychological crisis need support in returning to everyday social and professional activity.


Independent in the area of self-service. Require training in social and professional functioning. Most often, people who experienced a significant deterioration in their mental health and living conditions. They are looking for support in terms of independent living using Gdynia's social services, including self-help clubs. Participation in clubs allows them to combine work and household duties with the use of support that comes not only from specialists, but also from participants. They support each other in searching for a job, arranging housing and much more.

Adults experiencing mental crises participate in self-help clubs. The youngest participant is 18 years old, the oldest 74 years old (the most people are between 24 and 45 years old). The group is diversified in terms of materiality, some professionally active people, some live on permanent benefits and pensions, and family support. Most of the participants know each other. Some of them after hospitalization, in undergoing therapy. They do not find themselves in structures based on a strict framework, e.g. requiring daily presence at certain times. They expect support in a flexible form. Some of the participants lead an active professional life.

The situation of people with mental disorders is more difficult than that of people with other disabilities. The specificity of the disorders, the multiplicity of symptoms, the time of onset, complex dynamics of the course and the need for long-term therapy often mean that these people are more often excluded from outside the mainstream of social life than others. Little knowledge in society about the specificity of mental disorders, their genesis and impact on people's functioning, numerous negative stereotypes generate strong anxiety, limiting contacts with such people and intensifying the processes of marginalization. These people have a limited opportunity to participate in socio-political life.


Aim/s[edit]

The pilot was aimed at a group of people experiencing a mental crisis who are users of Gdynia's social services. MOPS provides a number of services aimed at mentally ill people who, after leaving the hospital, seek support in an independent life. The target group of the pilot is exposed to a high level of stereotypization of both self-stigma and social stigma as people who are dangerous and useless. This pushes them to the margins of society, isolating and excluding them from non-formal education, including digital education and critical thinking. By including the group in the pilot project, we wanted to initiate a process of non-formal education that would take into account the specific psychological, health and socio-professional situation of people who experience psychological crises to such an extent as to make full use of the socio-political life.

Location[edit]

It is a community of the inhabitants of Gdynia and neighboring cities, which is concentrated around self-help clubs in Gdynia. The clubs are located in Gdynia Działki Leśne - in the centre near the city rail and bus stop, which greatly facilitates getting to the place – Klub 123 and Gdynia Śródmieście. Chrzan House.

Title of the path[edit]

Digital Education [EN]


Duration[edit]

5 sessions (5 days; total 15 h) 3h/session

Description of learners/participants[edit]

Adult women/men experienced by a mental crisis aged 18-72 y.o. The participants are mostly semi-independent, provided with family/institution support (emotional, organizational, labor or financial help), hospitalized at some point, with educational/labor challenges. Some of the participants know each other from the institution or they know workers from the institution. Work/educational assistance brought them together.

Implementation[edit]

The aim is to develop among the participants competences, abilities and knowledge regarding Media Literacy, Digital Narrations and Critical Thinking. The project is part of the deinstitutionalization issue to provide support for the participants to include them in everyday possibilities/challenges. The workshop was provided in the Club for the participants, which is the place where they receive educational/work support as well. The space was prepared adequately for the workshop. Distance from the main communication spot could be a withdraw.

Content[edit]

The participants were learning about Media Literacy for their personal and professional cause including subjects: • Critical thinking, source checking, identifying fakes, • Using digital tools for critical thinking, • Using stories and narratives for community exchange/communication, • Identifying needs, specifically for the community. Our group was learning how to build a story, personal and for the community. They were presenting their stories and learning how to communicate them, post them online in a safe way, and discuss their output with the audience.

The participants worked individually and collectively on attitudes, knowledge and social skills during the workshop to improve their self awareness, ability to know and use tools for fact/fake checking and source identification. They were developing specifically: • writing skills (clear and transparent message), • differentiating facts from fakes, • communication skills (listening, verbalizing thoughts/emotions, • team work (planning, creating and executing tasks). The group created posters on their digital history/identity, posted team works online and experimented with smartphones, tablets, computers and applications for communication.

The participants created individual stories of their daily life (hobbies like dogs), professional (work seeking advert), group (building a story about favorite places in the city). The narratives were structured by the participants and trainers, discussed and posted online through social media of the Club where the workshop was provided.

Session Plan[edit]

The workshop started with a small introduction of the Concrit project, that we are testing some exercises and want to offer some space to learn more about understanding technology, the online world and communication on the internet.

Day 1 (3 hours) Introduction the trainers and the observer Exercise 1. Media Literacy intro - based on the process of recruitment a digital story was made (by pictures). Exercise 2. Ring in pairs - sharing ringtones and stories about them/learning technical operations on the phone. Exercise 3. Rules in picture - the rules of the workshop were set up by word cloud app. Exercise 4. Defining a story. Jane and Paul’s story - analyzing fact/fake qualities of a story.

Day 2 (3 hours) Exercise 1. My digital story - forum presentation everyone's story about their experience with digital tools/subject. Exercise 2. Selfie run - work for a semi-team to complete 7 tasks using smartphone and creativity. Exercise 3. Communication - sending pictures - sharing pictures with a thocs/safety discussion. Exercise 4. Searching for pictures - experimenting with searching pictures, finding open collections.

Day 3 (3 hours) Exercise 1. Similarities/differences - icebreaker on open/hidden traits regarding media literacy. Exercise 2. Your city story - making a video on a city a semigroup chooses to work on.

Day 4 (3 hours) Exercise 1. Archive. Wayback machine - experimenting with web pages in the past, discussing changes/attitudes. Exercise 2. Make a story - brainstorming on a random story which participants are suppose to publish.

Day 5 (3 hours) Exercise 1. World view - attitudes - discussing traps regarding fake stories. Exercise 2. Mindfulness - training awareness and being mindful, self awareness and observation of thoughts/emotions. Exercise 3. Move Your attitude - discussing and argumenting attitudes towards media. Exercise 4. Picture search - tips on how to search open source pictures on the web and ethics discussion.

We used our needs assessment from the beginning of the project. We added exercises: • Selfie run, • Similarities/differences, • Archive. Wayback machine, • Story making, • Worldview, • Mindfulness, • Move Your attitude.