This is a simple exercise intended to be completed either individually or preferably by a group (up to around 16 people) in discussion. The idea is to help care workers to overcome the perception that mental health is difficult to understand by asking them to arrange these 21 cards as they think they should go. Click the link below to download the PDF…

Mental disorders family tree exercise

Give them the blanked out key to work from as though it’s a jigsaw with the key taking the place of the picture on the box. 

mh family tree diagnosis symptoms exercise training

Most groups are able to do this correctly without any help at all – just by process of elimination, the application of the things they already know and the clues they can glean from the key (length of blacked out words, number of items in each column etc). I’ve done this little exercise with countless groups and only rarely do they need any assistance. Those few groups that have needed help didn’t need much. 

The advantage of this exercise is that it works as a warm up, it gets participants talking early on and it boosts their confidence. It also provides the participants with a rough and ready mental schema to hang the rest of the day’s training on to. 

Follow it up with a discussion about the fact that, whilst mental health work might seem very complicated, at its most basic level it’s really just about these categories and symptom groups. There is, of course much more to learn but this little overview really is a damn good start!

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