UCLan student puts spotlight on mental health

20 June 2018

A University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) student has used her final year project to address the benefits of neuroplasticity on mental health

Nikola Carson, 22, a former Blackpool Sixth Form College student, will graduate with a degree in Textiles at the end of the month and wanted her work to focus specifically on the struggles relating to men’s mental health.

Neuroplasticity is an ability the brain has to form and recognise synaptic connections in response to learning, experiences or following injury. The main aim is for the brain to form neural connections throughout life and promote positive thinking.

Nikola created a series of multi-coloured embroidered fabrics depicting how ‘rewiring the brain’, the title of her project, works.

Although her work represents a personal experience of anxiety, it also allowed Nikola to explore other areas of the knowledge she gained from studying Health and Social Care at college.

Nikola said: “I am passionate about using my artistic skills to raise awareness of mental health and improve the outlook people have on it as an illness, which is why my project gives an insight into neuroplasticity and how it works."

"Mental health often takes a back seat, especially with men, and I wanted to use my knowledge and personal experiences to help people dealing with related conditions."

Nikola’s inspiration for the project began in her second year of University, when she studied mental health.

She said: “I was able to use the research I had already done to continue raising awareness about something I am passionate about.

“At first look, my artwork purposefully doesn’t give a clear indication about what it relates to and this is to invite questions that will allow me to talk more broadly about the issues it is associated with.

“I have always been creative, so choosing to come to UCLan was an easy decision and has really paid off. The tutors are all approachable which allowed my confidence to grow along with my skills.”

Nikola aims to continue combatting the stigma attached to mental health and allow people to learn about how rewiring the brain using neuroplasticity techniques can make a difference.

Nikola’s designs will be on display at UCLan’s Preston Campus from Friday 15-Friday 22 June as part of the Lancashire Arts Festival Degree Show. 

Nikola Carson
Nikola Carson