General News — 29 January 2015

Jane Reynolds can’t imagine doing anything else: “I love working with people. I love hearing their stories. I love seeing how they can change their life with a bit of support.” She makes it sound easy, but as an occupational therapist (OT) working as a community forensic mental health practitioner, Reynolds is tasked with engaging some of the hardest to reach service users: people with severe mental disorders, including severe and enduring mental illness and personality disorder, usually with a history of violent crime. “They don’t want to listen to country and western music, or dig a garden, generally,” she says. Four years ago, Reynolds hit on the idea of a group in which clients can make films telling their own stories, delivered in partnership with the Educational Shakespeare Company, which works with offenders and marginalised people. The results – lower levels of anxiety and depression in clients and improvements in self-esteem and social functioning – have been, in her words, astounding.


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