Radio Time To Change

Leeds will soon have its own radio show dedicated to mental health and well being issues. South Leeds Community Radio, a 24 hour online radio station, has been running a training course in conjunction with local anti-stigma campaigners Time to Change Leeds to teach volunteers the skills to run their very own radio shows.

DSC00015Tricia hones her interview skills

When Time to Change Leeds organiser Tricia Thorpe invited me to attend the training as a Leeds Wellbeing Web rep I had visions of Frasier, one of my favourite 90s sit coms, based on the radio show the psychiatrist ran in Seattle. But this is a lot different, because the people running the show will be people with lived experience of mental health issues – not a psychiatrist in sight.


On the second session of the five week training course, ex BBC man Jaz, the station Manager, showed us how to work the faders, balance the gain, cue in the CD players, and generally run a chat show format, with scintillating conversation interspersed with favourite music tracks. I would never have thought being a DJ was something I could do, and it was strangely exhilerating to have the equipment explained and demystified – it’s not as hard as you’d think.

Tricia’s ambitions are running high. She has plans for Desert Island Disc scenarios with local mental health celebs like Niccola Swan, Manager of Leeds Mind. There’ll also be personal stories and opinions by people with lived experience, news, information, music spots where people can nominate songs with a special significance, and performances by local poets and musicians. In fact its a very open format, and still in the planning stage, so anything could happen.


The show will run for an hour every month, and is planned to start at the end of April or early in May, so watch this space. If you have any great ideas you think would work on radio, let us know and we’ll pass them on, or contact Time To Change Leeds direct on their website or through:

Address: Volition, Suite 17D,  Joseph’s Well, Hanover Walk, Leeds, LS3 1AB

Telephone: 0113 242 1321

Mobile: 07577 770972


Connecting Social Care and Social Media

Being isolated and housebound can have a serious impact on a person’s health, well-being and quality of life. A new internet and smartphoneservice is helping housebound individuals to explore the outside world with a friend, relative, carer, or volunteer. The aim of Shared Walk is to help people stay in touch through sharing access to photographs and short videos that can be easily and spontaneously transmitted from a customised mobile phone app.

In particular, it allows anyone with a smartphone to capture and send narrated videos to a housebound partner with access to personal space on the Shared Walk website. It is hoped that this service will be particularly valuable for relatively isolated individuals with access to the website. It will enable them to keep in touch with any contact  (or group of contacts) who can use a smartphone app. It is secure, accessible and user friendly to…

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The City Talking – Read All about it!

As much as I like all that new media offers, reading a newspaper is still my favourite relaxation and being informed about local news and events helps me feel more in touch with community, and feel part of the buzz of living in a rapidly changing city.

Congrats on your launch!


What NHS support is available for mental health in Leeds?

Here is a fantastic guest post by Toby Chelms!

What to expect when accessing NHS mental health support in Leeds

I work for the Leeds NHS Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service as a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist (through the charity Leeds Counselling).  Within my role I conduct screening appointments for people who feel that they might benefit from accessing some mental health support.  These sessions can be daunting for many people, most have just called a number or been referred by their GP with little knowledge of what lies ahead.  I therefore thought it might be useful to explain a bit about what these meetings are and what might happen following them.

Within Leeds there are many mental health support services available, some of these are via the NHS or local charities, some of these are free to access, some have a cost or donation involved, some have short waiting times, others significantly longer; some might be close to where you live, others further afield; some might specialise in specific areas, others might be more broad.  As you can see from that (very) garbled sentence, accessing the right support for you can be rather overwhelming and can often be enough to put you off seeking it and this is where a screening session can be very useful.  The purpose of an initial screening is for the person conducting the session (who will be a Therapist from the IAPT Team) to get a better idea of the problems that you are currently experiencing and to use that information to present you with a filtered set of options which would be most useful for you and to also answer any questions that you might have about the next stages of treatment.

To access a screening session you just need to call 0113 8434388, you will then be booked in for an initial session (times can vary based on your flexibility of days and location).  This initial session can last anywhere from 25-50 minutes and will involve working through some set questions around your current experience of issues, lifestyle and might also involve the completion of some relevant health questionnaires.  At the end of this session you will be able to use the Therapist’s guidance to make a decision on which route you would like to go down (and there is no pressure to take any route at all).

In terms of routes available via the IAPT service, in Leeds we are able to offer Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Guided Self-Help (GSH), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), Counselling for Depression, Groups for Stress Management or Low Moods and Computerised CBT (CCBT).  We are also able to help signpost you to services such as the Community Mental Health Team, Drug and Alcohol services and many other local organisations who might be more targeted towards your current needs (for example Cruse for Bereavement or Relate for relationship counselling).

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact the IAPT service on the above number and hopefully one of the team will be able to help.


The Road To Recovery, Peer Support Groups at Leeds Mind.

I have recently been attending Peer Support Groups at the Wellbeing Service at Leeds Mind – Clarence House in Horsforth.

Initially I felt quite hesitant about attending a support group. I wondered if it was the right thing to do. Was I going backwards? Was I too vulnerable? What would it be like?  Would I get entangled in other people’s stories?  However I did decide to go and it’s been really beneficial.  I have found it to be a really supportive environment.

There are a variety of courses including: Confidence Building, Self-esteem, Assertiveness Skills,  Mindfulness and Relaxation techniques. Some of the courses run for a day and some of the courses are run over a number of weeks.  The facilitators all have personal experience of mental ill-health and are professional, skilled, insightful and caring.  I appreciated that the group was facilitated by people who have personal experience – I think it’s so important.  It’s not an ‘Us and Them’ environment and so it put me at ease.

One of the reasons why I think it works so well is that the groups feel very safe. The courses have structure and everyone speaks in turn around the group. If you want to you can pass on your turn – if it feels too much.  There are ground rules in place which are discussed at the start of a course which  include things such as: to try not to talk over each other, respect each other, that it’s okay to make mistakes, to refrain from giving advice and to keep things confidential.  The setting is beautiful and non-clinical. One room in particular has a stunning view over a lovely garden which contains lovely trees and squirrels can be seen scampering around.  There is a kitchen so you can make yourself a cuppa in the break-time .A small affordable donation is suggested for the sessions but it is said that this is not necessary if you really cannot afford it.

Attending the groups has given me chance to express my feelings and share my experience in a safe environment, with people who understand and are non-judgmental.  I’ve also gained a lot of insight from other people’s experiences.

One thing that has struck me is just how nice everyone is – there is something quite humbling about the experience.  If there is anything positive to take from experiencing mental illness/distress – is that perhaps that it can make people more understanding.

There is no formal referral process – please call the Wellbeing Service on 0113 305 5802

Thank you to Leeds Mind,


The three R’s

…Reading, Writing and Arithmetic have always been and still are highly valued. Reading and writing have been pleasurable and therapeutic for me for many years. Contributors to Leeds Wellbeing Web and other re-blogs posted on the site, show this to be the case for many who have experienced mental illness.

Reading Dorothy Rowe’s work was one of the biggest factors in my recovery. I was lucky enough to attend events where she spoke, and I found her to be as clear, warm, compassionate and non-jargonistic in person as she appeared to be in her writing. Despite having physical health problems of long standing, following her talks she willingly engaged with individuals from the audience…even little ol’ me. I admired the way she coped with those in the audience, keen to identify themselves as mental health professionals, in opposition to her approach, she had answered them calmly and with clarity. Continue reading