Community and Connection

Hearts and Minds

Creative activities and initiatives for people who use mental health services in south London

Age Exchange has designed and delivered a creative arts and reminiscence programme for people who use mental health services in south London, funded by the Maudsley Charity. Work focused on provision of reminiscence arts in care settings, and one outward facing arts production each year enabling the public to experience the methodology and creativity of Hearts and Minds.


As part of the Age Exchange ‘Hearts and Minds’ programme, the premiere screening of ‘Overload’ took place on 15 November 2011. The film is about how modern day living in South London affects people’s senses.

The screening marked the end of the first year of the’Hearts and Minds’ programme.

The film uses people’s accounts of mild to severe effects of ‘Overload’, what triggers it, how it affects their lives, how it makes them feel and what they do to cope with it.

Film-maker Ivan Riches directed Overload, working in partnership with people who suffer from mental health distress. He said: “I have worked with some extremely creative and courageous people. Overload is a film that will crack the walls of stigma.”

Gaining a better understanding of mental health

One of the film’s participants added: “I think our film project has achieved an opening of minds, a lowering of barriers, reduction of fear in people’s minds. I’ve learnt to let go of some desires to control my environment. I hope to gain a better understanding of mental health.”

The film was introduced at the premiere by Stuart Bell CBE, a former Chief Executive of South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust (SLaM), who said: “I’m very pleased to be introducing Overload at the film’s premiere. Maudsley Charity is proud to be supporting Hearts and Minds. It is an important programme that provides people in south London with mental health issues access to creative activities and initiatives that can directly benefit their wellbeing.”

Empowering others to find a voice through creativity

David Savill, Artistic Director, Age Exchange said: “I am really impressed with the creativity and courage shown by the company that has both shared very personal and difficult memories, and learnt important new skills in film-making and editing as part of the production process for Overload. Make no mistake, participants have shown real courage in sharing their personal struggles with overload. They have done so in order to challenge the stigma attached still to ‘mental illness’, and to empower others who experience overload to feel they are not alone, and can find a voice through creativity”.

As part of the Hearts and Minds programme, Age Exchange is developing major projects in creative care working across Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham and Croydon.