Why you care

Mother comforts her teen daughterIf you are a non paid carer of someone suffering from mental illness, there will be times that you question yourself on why you care. Especially during the toughest part of a crisis. It might be that you constantly fear loosing that person through an eating disorder, addiction or psychotic episode. It may be that you are having difficultly getting your point across to mental health professionals especially when the NHS is in its time of crisis.

You may question not only the reason why you care, but question your own well being.

Being a non-paid carer is vital not only for the person being cared for, but for the community. Each community thrives on people want to help each other out, after all isn’t that how communities work? We share all things in common, we all want to get along and wish the best for each other. It is unfortunate that life is not always fair, there will be that special someone struck down with mental illness that non-paid carers would have to fight for.

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Carers would like some assistance especially if they are struggling to make ends meet, it need not always be financial assistance, but recognition and hearing the carer can go a long way to improving engagement with the family.

I have been through the situation many times on if I was making the right decision, especially if I am having to try block my loved one’s decision or advocate for them, which might not always be in their interest. However I know in the long run, it would make big difference. I know in the long run it showed I really cared and that everything would turn out alright. My efforts as of this time did pay off.

Still there are many carers of those suffering from mental illness who still doubt themselves. Non-paid carers can be up against a mountain of red tape, lack of information, misunderstandings, lack of support, failing relationships and mental/physical turmoil themselves. It is true the mentally unwell person is getting the worst of it, but the carer struggle should not be ignored or discounted.

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There are carers out there who can speak their mind and getting things sorted out quickly, but the majority of carers silently cope and continue on until they reach that breaking point. If you as a non-paid carer question why you are caring for someone close who is unwell, just think this to yourself, you do this because “YOU CARE”

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Self Care Week

SCWwebbuttonlg2017Welcome back to another health awareness video. I have been gone quite a long while, but that doesn’t mean I have not been very busy. I usually am involved with many carer forums and groups in and around south/south east London. I try to raise awareness of unpaid carers who look after someone suffering from mental illness.

 

To see the video version, please click below

However there comes a time when we need to look after ourselves, be it if we are caring for someone or trying to care for ourselves. This video looks into Self Care week, which runs from November 13th to November 19th. The theme is Embracing Self Care for Life. Self care is about keeping fit and healthy, understanding when you can look after yourself and also when to askfor advice from a GP.

If you are unwell or suffer from a long term condition then it is very important you find out as much as you can in order to support yourself. Self care need not be so difficult if you know what you are dealing with.

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Across the UK many suffer needlessly when dealing with weight problems, lack of exercise and stopping smoking. Getting information or attending events can be useful in combating unhealthy lifestyles. If you are caring for someone, you can easily fall into the habit of not paying much attention to your own health needs. It is an easy mistake to make especially when you have little time for yourself.

From the self care forum website, there are tips and advice not only for yourself, but for GP surgeries and pharmacists up and down the UK. It is a massive drive to get the population healthier and combat damaging habits to our health.

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You can find out more about Self Care week from the Self Care forum on http://www.selfcareforum.org/events/self-care-week/

Remember if you cannot find time to self care for yourself, think of how hard it would be for you to care for someone else.

September update of the BME carers forum

IMG_20171027_115343This blog post is an update of September’s Lewisham BME carers forum. This is one of the four carer forums I am involved with and it is held over at a community centre called Family Health ISIS. The BME Carers forum was set up to provide a platform of engagement, empowerment, updates and issue raising out in the community.

It is important to note that the forum focuses on black African & Caribean carers who support/care for those suffering from mental illness. This is also one of the forums that has a mixture of carers and those with lived experience.

For September we were forunate enough to have engagement from Lewisham & Bromely Healthwatch. Marzena the community engagement officer came along to speak about what Healthwatch is all about and their mission to let others know about the health services available to them. Basically Healthwatch works to help local people get the best out of their local health and social care services.

As in the name, Lewisham & Bromely Healthwatch are covering two south east London boroughs, so they have a large area to cover.

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I felt that it is important all four of the carer forums have a link to their local healthwatches because many issues raised in the forums can be of great importance to such community organisations. It is important to note not all healthwatches are alike and they tend to work differently in each borough.

Marzena updated the forum about health services in the borough of Lewisham, but also spoke about the duties of healthwatch and what meetings they attended. Healthwatch have stronger connections to the health commissioners and other health and wellbeing committees.

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There was many passionate discussions about the issues members of family health ISIS are going through and I hope other guest speakers can work with the forum to tackle such problems.

Marzena also spoke about looking after your health and mentioned diabetes groups and support.  Healthwatch promoting diabetes peer support groups in the area.  Healthwatch also gave away some free products such as pens and hand sanitizers.

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I am grateful for Healthwatch for taking the time to engage with the BME mental health carer forum and hope they can attend the Lewisham Carers forum next year. Healthwatch also have offered to return to this forum in the new year.

Recovery from Mental Illness – collaboration

 

20140621_215858Welcome back to another blog post, this blog is on a well known subject within mental health fields and sometimes controversial. I decided to do a collaboration video with Malika Salih from “A Oreo Family”. We talked about mental health recovery, but this time Malika chose to focus on how mental health recovery affected her life.

 

If you wish to watch the video please click on the video below to play it.

As you can tell from the video Malika talked on how mental illness distrupted her life, but also gave her some insight into putting things into pespective. Malika rightly stated that mental health recovery is not the same for everyone, it all depends on the mental illness, the support one is getting and fighting stigma. Still it is so important to raise the awareness that mental health recovery can be possible under the right circumstances. It is a terrible situation to be aware that others fall deeper into mental illness when there are several chances of recovery.

As mentioned in my section of the video, I spoke about what impressed me about what Malika mentioned. It can be incredible difficult to speak openly about mental illness, there is still much stigma to face and the person can face ridicule. Without the support of friends, family or health professionals then the road to recovery will be a difficult one.

When mental illness impacts someone’s life, it can throw the persons life into turmoil, chaos and desperation could be the outcome, but there is always a small chance of reflection. We can begin to see how life can be incredibly fragile and as we begin to reflect on our own illness we slowly become aware of others, we become aware of the daily battle people face if they are struck with mental illness. This is just one of the reasons why Malika and myself continue to raise mental health awareness.

When you have time, please check out her videos off her media channel from the link below.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCA3enUqCcuqPt0UQcr-yL9Q/videos

Hope you enjoyed my blog, see you soon.

World Mental Health Day 2017

Welcome back to another one of my blog posts on mental health.  This blog post is helping to promote World Mental Health Day 2017.  The theme for World Mental Health Day is Mental health in the workplace. World Mental Health Day is observed on 10 October every year, with the overall objective of raising awareness of mental health issues

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Southwark Mental Health Carers Forum September

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Welcome to Septembers Southwark Mental Health Carers Forum. Out of all the four Mental Health carer forums, This is one of the newer carer forums that has been set up to provide a platform for unpaid carers looking after someone suffering mental health problems in the London borough of Southwark.

To watch the video version, please click below

On the agenda for september was the following.

– An Update and discussion of what is going on in Southwark for MH carers
– brief feedback from the recent SLaM carers committee meeting.
– An update from Ana on her involvement at SLaM
– Discussion about the recent Southwark CCG engagement meeting
– Feedback on carer assessments meeting

As a group we discussed updates from August’s forum. Then moved on to what our local mental health trust is doing for its carers.

I presented the following being how South London & Maudsley’s carer committee’s development’s on their

  • Action Tracker
  • The new Terms of Reference/Code of Conduct which is to be approved
  • The New carer Co-Chair
  • An update on Carers Engagement and Support Plans Update
  • Translation of Carers Information
  • Addressing the issues that matter to Carers

Next was Ana’ who helps with the Southwark mental health carers forum, she presented on her involvement at the Patient and Carer’s involvement group. It is vital carers can attend the forum and learn about how empowered carers can be if they learn from involved carers at the trust.

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We then discussed the Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy patient engagement event held on the 11th September. Basically NHS Southwark Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Southwark Council aim to improve mental health and wellbeing across the borough and have now developed a draft Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy. They held an event to engage the public, patients and carers.

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We got some views from the carers who attend that event and they felt it was very good that we were heard, but felt the scenario’s presented bared little resemblance to their current situations and also felt that lack of money was behind the draft where the community was asked to do more for less.

As a forum, we wish for further engagement from Southwark CCG as we seek to find common themes among mental health carers.

Next up for discussion was the carer’s assessment meeting feedback. There is a feeling that not enough carers are being assessed and the process is too vague when it comes to who is responsible for doing the assessments. Plus there is no idea on the quality control when it comes to carers assessment in the borough of Southwark.

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Even if the outcome of an assessment does not rely on fiancial support, there should be docmentation on carer needs and carer engagement.