100 Days of Medical Humanities Helping Health

Today’s guest blog post comes from Professor Marion Lynch, Deputy Medical Director of NHS England, Visiting Professor University of West London Dementia Care and Trustee of Paintings in Hospitals. Prof Lynch is spearheading 100 days of Medical Humanities helping health, 100 days of tweets up to  5th July 2018 to celebrate the UK National Health Service’s 70th birthday, using the hashtag #100daysmedhum

We have taken to Twitter to create a 100 day sharing event and a final anthology of resources.  Each day we as a band of academics, artists and interested clinicians from across the world add health and arts related evidence and events,  poetry and prose, drama and debate  to show how the kaleidoscope of medical humanities  can be used to see  ourselves, our patients,  the pain and the pathos of life. We are challenging the current approaches to clinical education.

Education is not simply a technical business of well managed information processing, nor even simply a matter of applying ‘learning theories’. It is a complex pursuit of fitting a culture to the needs of its members and their ways of knowing the needs of the culture. (Bruner 1996)

We are changing the culture.  In 1949 CP Snow noted we had two separate cultures, one of the arts and humanities and the other as science. In 2018 we seek an online, united culture. To date we have had examples of poetry and prose which explain ill health or explore how we feel about health, we have had research papers on the philosophy and epistemology of current clinician cases that are causing concern, we have had events or activities that create health or debate how we construct ill health.

Through this campaign for 100 days we highlight experiences such as Dr Kathryn Mannix’s recent award-winning 2017 autobiographical literature of clinicians, With The End in Mind which makes visible the chaos and calm of one’s day as a health professional and Anatole Broyard’s writing who, when finding out that his life was threatened, turned towards knowledge and wrote Intoxicated by my Illness (1992). We highlight education such as Future Learn’s free online module on Arts and Health, and Daisy Fancourt’s podcasts and pieces on BBC radio which explain the evidence behind Arts In Health. We highlight events about life’s dramas such as hidden middle-class middle-income drinking in Dry (Human Story Theatre) or the hidden scars of young soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (VAMOS’s Brave Face) . We are linked with other excellent campaigns such as Painting in Hospitals who have taken this idea further and have daily themes and stories of how art helps health.

We will create an anthology and make this available to all involved to encourage us all to have art as part of health. Please be part of this campaign up to 5th July  and use  #100daysmedhum to share your research and resources.