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Student nurses stage play on woman in mental health crisis

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Student nurses at Edinburgh Napier University are staging a play based on the traumatic experiences of a young woman in mental health crisis to highlight the importance of bringing health and social care together.

The play – titled Mad, Bad, Invisible – tells the story of  ac character called Anne as she tries – and fails – to get the help she needs from a range of services, eventually ending up in prison.

“Being able to step into someone else’s shoes is such an important part of the nursing role”

Jennifer Dawson

Based on real events, it is performed by students from the university’s School of Health and Social Care and produced and directed by staff from Comas, a Scottish charity that supports people recovering from addiction and mental health crises.

The play will be staged at the Serenity Café in Edinburgh, which is run by people in recovery, and set to be followed by a debate on health and social care integration.

Nursing lecturer Catherine Mahoney, who has organised the event, said the hard-hitting performance made a compelling case for integration.

“Health and social care integration has potential to make sure the cracks in care that we sadly know exist can be closed. But integration is still in its infancy and is sometimes a difficult concept to grasp,” she said.

“Mad, Bad, Invisible makes the case for health and social care integration strongly and clearly. No-one should have to go to the lengths or reach the depths that Anne did to get the help they need as they struggle with addiction and mental illness,” she said.

“Anne’s story shows what a difference integrated services could make”

Jasmine Lauchlan

Jennifer Dawson, a first-year mental health nursing student, plays Anne in the play. “As a student nurse, I’ve learned that being able to step into someone else’s shoes is such an important part of the nursing role,” she said.

“It helps us to understand what people are going through so we can care for them better,” she said. “Playing Anne has been hard, but it’s not nearly as tough as the experience she went through just to get some help. That’s why it’s so important her story is told.”

Meanwhile, fellow first-year mental health nursing student Jasmine Lauchlan takes on the role of Anne’s support worker Bella from Comas.

“Bella tries everything to get help for Anne – and it wasn’t hard to feel her frustration with a system that just didn’t seem to care,” she said. “Anne’s story shows what a difference integrated services could make to people’s lives, particularly those who are the most marginalised in our society.

“I’m sure I speak for all the cast when I say that I wish it was a story we didn’t need to tell, but I’m so glad we have as it’s one that desperately needs to be told,” she added.

The performance on 9 November is one of a series of events being organised as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Festival of Social Science. The event, in its fifteenth year, takes place from 4-11 November with over 300 free events across the UK.

As part of the same event, on Saturday, commuters in Manchester will be asked to “take a seat” by two healthcare researchers from the University of Salford in order to raise awareness about the dangers of a condition that affects hundreds of thousands every year.

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