World Mental Health Day

World Mental Health Day is on this coming Friday, the 10th of October. The focus nationally this year is on ‘Living with Schizophrenia’. Throughout the week a variety of groups in Leeds will be doing their bit to raise awareness of ways to improve understanding of mental health issues generally, and about ways to wellbeing for those living with the experience of mental distress.

The third sector organisation Volition will be hosting a celebratory event on  World Mental Health Day itself. from 11 a.m to 3.00 at the Civic Hall in Leeds. This event is jointly organised by Leeds City Council’s, Adult Social Care, Time to Change Leeds and others. That such events are an annual occurrence, when people with lived experience, the public and related organisations can come together to speak openly about mental illness, is a cause for celebration. One aim of this event is a quest for conversation starters, and to help bust stigma, indeed having experience of mental illness is no reason for shame or stigma. Those of us with lived experience of mental distress can be proud of the ways we strive to grapple with symptoms. Our willingness and forthrightness in speaking  out about our experiences can aid others wellbeing.

As we approach the day it is useful to also reflect on this years highlighted theme, ‘Living with Schizophrenia’. What is the impact on individuals who’s symptoms lead to this diagnosis, on those who love and support them and the wider community?

We might also like to consider the Government’s recent report on public mental health, in which the Chief Medical Officer of Health states a commitment to the need for change in addressing stigma. In addition the report also highlights  the need to improve support for people who have lived experience of distressed mental health, to retain or find work. The aforementioned aims are worthy and do require ongoing attention, however as the following excellent article by Mark Gamsu points out, many of the causes of poor mental health are directly attributable to social inequality, the profile of health inequalitiies needs raising. Additionally the article highlights the need for wellbeing initiatives that have already proven effective to be retained, not curtailed.

You are welcome to join in or start a conversation about ways to maintain good mental health.

Sue Margaret

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Time to Change Experience coming to Leeds

Volition is one of the partners in an exciting project to bring the “Time to Change Experience” to Leeds. The new Time to Change campaign will show the small, everyday things you can do for those you care about – whether that’s a chat over a cuppa, sending a text, or giving someone a call to catch up and ask them how they are. Look out for the new TV advert on ITV, Channel 4, Five, Sky, and on catch up TV.

Along with the Time to Change Leeds team, Leeds & York Partnership Foundation Trust, Leeds City Council, Leeds Mind, Touchstone and others, Volition are working with the national Time to Change campaign team on a public engagement event at the White Rose Centre on Saturday 8th February. They are looking for volunteers, so please pass this information on to people you know who might be interested…

Would you be willing to talk about your personal experiences of mental health problems to help break down stigma? Do you live in or near Leeds?

white-rose-centre-leeds

What would it mean to volunteer? Well apparently Volunteer Co-ordinators will be there to support you throughout, and you’ll get the chance to attend a free training session, with a choice of time and locations in Leeds before the event. The face to face training includes role play and films to help you speak confidently to people “and have lots of fun!” Travel expenses will be paid and a fee of £15.

According to Volition,

“the Time to Change Experience is a ‘pop-up’ space where people can learn the truth about mental health in an engaging and fun way. Time to Change volunteers will challenge stereotypes of mental ill health by talking to the public about their lived experiences of mental health problems. This is the flagship community engagement event being organised in conjunction with Time to Talk Day which takes place across the country.”

To find out more about volunteering at this event, including what to expect, training, and how to apply, go to the Time to Change website, download the poster (pdf 350KB) or contact Gill Crawshaw at Volition. Tel.0113 2421321. gill.crawshaw@volition.org.uk

A Mental Health Information telephone line for Leeds? A recent focus group.

A few weeks ago I attended a Research Focus Group which had the aim of establishing  whether a Mental Health Information telephone line could benefit the people of Leeds.

We met in the head office of Age UK which is in a fantastic listed building.  It also houses the lovely Arch Cafe which is described as a ‘Cafe with a Conscience. ‘  All profits go to support Age UK’s work with older people. It is a great place to go for coffee and cake!

The research room had a positive feel and was fresh and bright.  I couldn’t help but compare this favorably to institutional or clinical environments, which are often the type used for mental health services.  But this is just an aside.

Back to the Focus Group….

It was a stimulating experience and I felt valued to be part of this research.  Members included Health Professionals, members of the public and those (including myself) who had personal experience of using mental health services within Leeds.

The group took the format of a discussion.  It was friendly and insightful.  We shared many of the same views.    A consensus soon emerged that we all thought an Information Line would be an asset and a worthwhile investment in Leeds.   However many questions and concerns followed this.

The information line would not be a Support Line, would it naturally turn into one? This then led to a discussion about the lack of places to go or call when in crisis. Who would run such a line?  We thought that the person should be empathetic and have either personal experience of mental health issues, or experience through caring for a  relative or have worked in this area.  It was important to the group that the telephone line must not be harmful to the person in any way, as all intervention counts and can impact the well-being of a vulnerable person. We expressed  the desire that the person must have an appropriate sensitivity when dealing with callers, that they are aware and that they ‘get it.’

Who would run this line? The NHS? The Local Authority?  A Third Sector organisation?  Most people seemed to think the latter!

Would the telephone line be backed up by social media, text, a website?  …

And the discussion went on…

It will be interesting to find out the outcome. Will Leeds eventually have an info line for Mental Health and if so what information will this provide?

Watch this space…

The research was conducted on behalf of Volition by StopHateUK.

Thanks for reading,

Vicky 🙂