Rachel Finke died by suicide in 2017, aged 16. Her mother Sarah, who is an illustrator, has launched a participative art project calling for a major rethink of young mental health services.
All The Crows (https://www.campaigningillustrations.com) is comprised of a book, Small Crow about a young girl so overwhelmed by negative feelings that she believes can no longer continue to live, as well as an installation All the crows came, which explores the grief of those left behind after a suicide.
The installation includes the opportunity for visitors to make origami crows to add to the display; Finke will send these contributions to Nadine Dorries, Minister for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety. Website visitors can participate remotely: they are asked to make and send their own paper crows (https://www.campaigningillustrations.com/makeacrow).
"Post-Covid, this government has made some promises: to recruit NHS staff, address waiting lists and fund young people's charities. That's good, but not good enough: real investment and expanded vision are needed to produce effective NHS mental health care for our young people and their future children," said Finke.
A young people's mental health service that goes up to 25 (instead of cutting off at 18), the introduction of a zero-suicide approach nationally, robust support for parents and carers with sick children at home, and mental health institutions that are places of refuge as opposed to detention, are amongst the changes Finke suggests could be introduced.
The charity Young Minds estimates that one in six under 16s have a mental health problem and that of these, less than one in three get treated. Eighty per cent of young people with mental health disorders say the Covid-19 pandemic made their problems worse.
About 7 per cent of children have attempted suicide by the age of 17 and almost one in four say they have self-harmed in the past year, according to the British Journal of Psychiatry.
Sarah Finke is a trustee of local charity Safaplace, which promotes young mental health.
All The Crows is open on 17 and 18 September at the Campbell Works Gallery, 27 Belfast Road, London N16 6UN.
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