World Suicide Prevention Day 2019

businessman sittingWorld Suicide Prevention Day is an awareness day observed on 10 September every year, in order to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides. World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD),  runs on the 10 September and is set by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP). where the World Health Organisation also sponsor the day. The theme for 2019 is called Working Together to Prevent Suicide.

The WHO and IASP also work with governments and other partners to ensure that suicide is no longer stigmatized, criminalized or penalized.

However one of their main aims is to raise awareness of the risks of suicide and to fund suicide prevention schemes.

I took some time to look at some stats on suicide and was amazed to know that a person dies every 40 seconds by suicide and up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt.  Suicide is also among the top 20 leading causes of death globally for people of all ages.  The WHO refers the widest number of suicides occur in the age group 15 – 29.

If you would like to check out my awareness video on world suicide prevention day, please play the video below.

Who are the UK organisations?

Since world Suicide prevention day is a global movement, what is happening in the UK?

There are many in the UK helping to battle against suicide and raise awareness. From Rethink Mental Illness, Mind, Network Rail, NHS England, Probation Service, Samaritans, Heads Together, Grassroots suicide prevention, Healthwatch, Mates in Mind and PAPYRUS (helping young people against suicide) Plus many more.

For the UK there is the National Suicide Prevention Alliance, The National Suicide Prevention Alliance (NSPA) is a cross-sector, England-wide coalition working reduce suicide in England. You can even sign up to be a member, its free.

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Some Facts about suicide

The main suicide triggers are poverty, unemployment, the loss of a loved one, arguments and legal or work-related problems. Plus triggers can form from difficulties with developing one’s identity especially Lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people who come from families that reject or do not accept them.

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We also have isolation from the community, bullying and racism in society with far too few trying to tackle the causes leading to a spike in suicide levels. We also have relationship breakdown and divorce as a leading cause especially in older adults who find there is lack of support after a relationship has finished.

Talking about community basically suicide is a community issue and is everyone’s business. No one should suffer alone and together people can fight suicide and reach out to others when they are in need. Everyone has something to contribute no matter how large or small.

With mental health, those suffering depression are at high risk of suicidal behaviours, but at the same time how can someone with depression know they are at risk?

My thoughts on suicide prevention

From Sociologists, health professionals and Economists to researchers they all have a large part to play in understanding suicide as social pressures place a lot of strain on people to trigger suicide.

We all have a part to play in tackling suicide. Unfortunately suicide is still a taboo subject and can be rather complex in the community. You just cannot look into someone’s mind and have an idea that they are at risk, people need to listen, but those at risk need to need to talk (although be choosy on who you talk to).

As a male, I am certainly aware and have experienced situations on why men are more likely to take their life. I feel some men are very competitive and often see opportunities to get the better of everyone. There is no problem with competition, but it can be an issue if someone feels opening up is weak or bringing others down is strong. As with women, they are often more likely to talk about their situation, while men might just deal with it until it might reach breaking point.

Families and carers

Families and carers can be just at risk, especially after a loved one has taken their life. People who have been bereaved by suicide can be at greater risk of taking their own lives. It is important to try talk to someone, especially someone close who will take the time to listen to you. There is always hope, even if the mind is in a place where it feels no one is listening.

Certainly seek out support and awareness groups. There is a site called Support after suicide which is at https://supportaftersuicide.org.uk

How can you help?

On World Suicide Prevention I am involved as a carer member on a suicide prevention steering group at my local mental health trust.  We are launching our Suicide prevention strategy soon and there will be an exciting conference on the day.

Even though my background is more on family and carer engagement, there is always room to learn and connect with those who have been affected by suicide.

If you are also thinking about being involved, here are some suggestions I could offer.

  • Blog, write and learn about suicide prevention..
  • Help reduce stigma on mental health and the after affects of suicide.
  • Try educate yourself about suicide prevention since a number of local events will be on during the day.
  • Be kind.
  • If suffering from suicidal thoughts, seek help.

Other places to seek help

Samaritans: 116 123 (free, for everyone, 24/7)
CALM: 0800 585858 (free, for men, 5pm-midnight)
PAPYRUS: 0800 968 4141

 

Service User Advocacy Exhibition

Thanks for stopping by at another carer blog post. I thought to quickly drum up a page on my latest visit to the Bethlem’s Museum of the mind. I was excited to be part of their new exhibition “Impatient! Stories of Service User Advocacy”.

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The exhibition which is over at the Bethlem Museum just inside the Bethlem Royal Hospital, celebrates the history of Service User advocacy. There is history on how the groups and organisations projected their causes and how they relate to psychiatry. I felt that sometimes when it comes to NHS exhibitions they tend to promote much of what has taken place in the hospitals, but showing what the community or inpatients have done, can give more of a holistic picture.

I was privileged to be shown how so many advocacy groups helped in their own cause from Dragon Cafe over in Southwark, to CoolTan Arts which was based also in Southwark. It was great to see Michelle Barrier’s work who was the CEO of cooltan sometime ago. We also had contributions from HearUs Croydon, speak out against psychiatry, Service User Involvement in Training and Education, Dolly Sen and many more.

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On that Saturday when the exhibition first opened to the public, I wandered around the Bethlem Gallery to see many of the exhibits and reflected on how those advocacy groups have made a difference to patients lives. Also on the day was a talk from Nathan Filer author of the books The Shock of the Fall.

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Nathan was there to talk about his new book The HeartLand, which from his website is a collection of personal stories and essays about madness and its meanings. His talk was on how he used to work in a hospital, which led him to become more involved in mental health nursing. Many of the questions from the audience were challenging and well thought out.

You can find out more about Nathan Filer from his website

https://www.nathanfiler.co.uk/

I then visited the rest of he museum which had an impressive display of the history of the Maudsley and about Bedlem. I event visited the boardroom. which showed the picture of Queen Mary who visited one of the wards around 1930. Queen Mary eventually became the President of Bethlem.

You can find out more about the boardroom in the museum below.

https://museumofthemind.org.uk/blog/just-visiting-queen-mary

The rest of the day I spent going through the sections and displays from advocacy groups, I am sorry if I missed any since there was so many. As mentioned, I feel that patients can have a very difficult time getting their voice heard. Even when unwell, it is so important that some have the strength to form a group or network and try to have that voice. There are problems with psychology and psychiatry, especially with medications and policies from the government. Some of those things are just a small reason why the service user advocacy groups have formed and need to stay in place.

Some groups help to support the mental health system, while others are against. Some advocacy groups help to untangle the maze of the mental health system, while other advocacy groups work towards creativity and expression. The history of advocacy groups is very rich and I feel this is just a start of the celebration of service user voices and protests.

I was also glad to chip into the exhibition due to my involvement with Service User Involvement In Training and Education (SUITE), basically SUITE allows patients and unpaid carers to have the power to be involved in training NHS staff, develop courses and educate others on their experiences. The Museum kindly took my views and included me along with other members of SUITE in a video exhibition.

I have also noticed that on the day, some NHS staff from South London and Maudsley took time off their weekend to visit the exhibition including the Chief Operating Officer.

I would like to thank the organisers and the Bethlem Museum and Bethlem Gallery for including service users and carers in the rich history of mental health.

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The exhibition runs from 7 September 2019 to the 4 January 2020

Thanks for stopping by.

Lewisham MH Carers forum August 2019 update

133Welcome to the August update of the Lewisham Mental Health Carers forum. This forum runs from Carers Lewisham over by Forest Hill, just near Forest Hill train station. The forum focuses on unpaid carers who support/care for someone with mental health needs e.g. schizophrenia, eating disorders, bipolar, major depression, addictions and so on. I even try and involve those caring for learning disabilities.

The forum tends to try and form a relationship with the local mental health trust, that being South London & Maudsley, we also seek for ways to educate, discuss and empower families and carers. We also seek engagement from Lewisham Hospital, Lewisham CCG, Lewisham council, Lewisham Healthwatch and other important stakeholders.

I have always mentioned to members or perhaps anyone that knowledge and information is power. So for August we were very fortunate enough to have South London & Maudsley’s former Patient Information Manager. Roslyn Byfield is a trained Counseller and therapist, she has her own practice and is very active in discussions about BACP, which stands for the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. I have known her for quite a while now and was happy that she took some time out of her schedule to engage with families and carers.

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As she placed leaflets and booklets on the tablet for carers to take, it brought back a lot of memories. Infact one of the booklets, which was the physical wellness booklet won an award.

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We were hoping to be joined by SLaM quality Improvement, but they are more likely to attend in September. Plus in some ways, perhaps that was a good thing because the forum had a major discussion with Roslyn. Part of the talk was on carer empowerment and several organisations were mentioned. We also talked about the Government’s anticipated release of the Green Paper which focuses on Social care, but there has been major disappointment that political parties are kicking the social care can down the road. There was also talk about the Carers Action Plan, but many are skeptical about it.

In regards to empowerment we were told to form links regarding the NHS Constitution and focus on the Human Rights Act 1998 and the Equality Act 2010 as well as the Care Act 2014. We can make the mistake of trying to hold authorities to account, but its very hard to do that on your own and getting links to the human rights organisations can really speed things up if carers are not given the right information and support.

Here is a link, which might interest unpaid carers on their human rights.

https://www.bihr.org.uk/carersguide

The forum also focused on European Convention on Human Rights and what to learn from them. This could be useful if policies really begin to put pressure on carers and it would be important to make links.

At some point I will map out organisations to pull in to educate families and carers and also form stronger links as high up as possible.

There was some talk about the review of the Mental Health Act, which hopefully can put a spotlight on how families and carers can be pushed aside, especially when a loved one comes to harm, neglect or serious incident. We spoke about the problem with documentation from the health services, but it was mentioned some documents can be complex to stop people delving too far into things. It can be a strategy at some meetings to place jargon to ward off stakeholders querying why NHS systems are not working or why is there a high rate of Serious incidents. A lot of talk was on quality improvement, but without engagement then some members were wondering what to do.

We were focusing a lot on NHS constitution Section 3A and how it can support families and carers. Plus focusing on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. It does not help that guidelines are not enforceable and there was queries as to why NHS services are struggling. It does not help that funds are lacking for NHS trusts and then government places targets putting staff under pressure, which in turn affects families and carers.

We did not spend all the time focusing on carer empowerment, but also on therapy and counselling. I myself certainly have had not very good experiences with counselling, especially family therapy. I felt the outcome was a way to cover up the lack of services and then blame the family or carer for the patient relapsing. Some carers are in a worse situation when they are pressured to admit they are the cause of mental distress, leaving them confused, stigmatised, ashamed and isolated.

This is when accreditation came into the discussion. It is well known that there are good and bad counselors, but what happens if accreditation does not pick out the bad ones? Who is to blame? The big push for IAPTs has caused a massive break up of the counselling industry. Some people feel that counselling is not a journey, but now like popping in for advice. Roslyn mentioned counselling should not dis-empower the patient into looking for advice. Counsellers need to have life experience before they can examine someones life, no course be it a BSc or Honours would be enough for such a profession. There was talk about the BACP and PSA (Professional Standards Authority), which carers should keep an eye out for updates.

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Lastly there was talk about how carers MUST make time for themselves, it is important to look after our own health and wellbeing with emphasis put on spirituality. Many of the members felt that they were pressured to focus on their cared for, but it was mentioned that such mindset should change. It was however not an order but to be mindful of our own health needs.

Below was a set of tips given by a veteran carer.

• Seek help at an early stage
• Don’t be ashamed of mental illness
• Speak out if you think something is wrong
• Take care of yourself with counselling and exercise
• Keep in touch with your spiritual side

I was glad that Roslyn had time for the forum and will certainly follow up on making those links. The forum was told that they already have the resources to make some serious pathways, but there still needs to be some support for empowerment.

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This concludes the August update for the Lewisham MH Carers forum.

Lewisham BAME MH Carer Forum August 2019

me_edited-1Welcome to another update from an unpaid carer who is involved in their local mental health trust and communities. I often try and engage with communities as much as possible, be it through running carer strategy groups, giving my views and engaging with events.

For the August Lewisham BAME Mental Health Carers forum, we focused on Patient Participation Groups and also updates from the South London and Maudsley Inpatient Social worker over at Lewisham hospital.

The Lewisham Black Asian Minority Ethnic Carers group is one of the 4 groups that not only focuses on carers, but makes a distinction on their background, culture and ethnicity.

BAME groups are more likely to experience stigma and distress due to cultural interpretations and systems set up or designed that does not take into account BAME communities. Lewisham is certainly one of the most diverse London boroughs around so it really helps that communities get together to discuss and educate each other on issues regarding health.

Lewisham Ward Map

The Lewisham BAME carers forums also accommodates those using services, but there still needs to be a drive to engage with more BAME carers who are very uncertain of their role and perhaps lack peer support and identity.

The carers forum runs from Lewisham, Bromley and Greenwich Mind under the Community Wellbeing umbrella.

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Lewisham Community Wellbeing is delivered in partnership with several other local charities and public sector organisations. We have been very lucky to get the support of Mind who probably have a lot on as it is and there will be some very exciting community projects coming up soon.

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We have around 45 to 50 doctor’s practices in Lewisham and I was fortunate enough to have the chair of one of the largest doctors practice in Lewisham. Alexandra Camies does an immense amount of work engaging with patients for the doctors practice she helps with. The doctors surgery is also a member of the National Association Of Patient Participation or N.A.P.P. I have always said to carers and patients that doctors are usually the gatekeeper to services, if you feel your doctors practice could do more for you or the community, perhaps look into how their Patient Participation group works.

So what is a PPG anyway? What do they do?

  • PPGs offer patients an opportunity to be involved with and support their local General Practice. For the South Lewisham Health Centre. Here are some of the following things that PPG involves.
  • Patients wishing to join must, in order to comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), complete an application form.
  • They currently have a committee of 8 patients, including aChair and Secretary.Committee members are provided with written details of their roles, responsibilities and key relationships.
  • They have the assistance of the surgery Patient Liaison Officer, who attends each meeting and provides us with any help needed at the surgery.
  • They have a GP representative (usually a partner), and the Patient Services Manager that attends the meeting.
  • All members are invited to general meeting, held quarterly, and asked if they have any agenda items to put forward for discussion.
  • Members that are unable to attend are able to have a virtual input via email. Virtual members are sent copies of the minutes, which are also placed on the practice web site for all to view.
  • Committee members take on a little more responsibility at the South Lewisham PPG, taking a part in organising events or projects, or helping with various admin tasks. Committee meetings take place as and when needed.
  • Members may be being asked to help out for such things as events.

Take note not all doctor’s surgeries are alike. Some do not have the resources to have a PPG, but it does not stop patients from helping set one up. I explained to the forum that your doctors surgery is only as good as the community that cares for it and uses it.

How can a success for Patient participation group operate?

  • The PPG should try monitor progress against objectives
  • Publicise their successes
  • Involve people and not that would mean patients, especially those whose voice is not often heard.
  • Learn from other groups, usually other PPGs hence the PPG Network.
  • Build on and work with their network of health and wellbeing groups and organisations.
  • Expand activity where possible
  • Make sure to review our objectives regularly

There are only a very small part of what a PPG doctors surgery should work towards. Alex gave the group an excellent presentation and we both learnt and picked up ideas from each other. I reminded the group that they could start their own projects and inquire about their local doctors patient participation group.

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If you want more information about South Lewisham GP Practice, check out their website below.

http://www.southlewishamgrouppractice.co.uk/

Next up was Errol Chambers who is the social work for the Lewisham Hospital Ladywell unit. It was great that SLaM engages with the BAME forum, because I have always stressed the the forum represents empowerment when we form as a group. If SLaM staff recognise this, then they can support us, although we try hard not to be antagonistic. Errol gave us a choice on what information the group would want be it on benefits or on how the Ladywell unit is operating currently. The group wanted updates on the ladywell unit and we discussed changes and progress regarding patients experience of the mental health unit.

Lewisham CCG was mentioned quite a lot as they invest in the services and are keen to see if the hospital is working to the best of its abilities. Many members pressed for a relationship with the units, but also felt that staff development must be key as a good quality service. This is mainly down to how staff engage with patients and their carers.

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At the end of the forum, I updated on the planning meeting for Lewisham CCG’s stakeholder event and also for Lewisham’s Carers conference requested by my MP Janet Daby who is a carer herself. I also pointed out that the Lewisham HR lead will be at the BAME forum for September. I have asked we are updated on the following.

BME staff engagement – What else is happening to engage with BAME community.

Plus small updates on the following.

  • SLaM’s Health and well-being strategy
  • SLaM’s Talent management programme
  • The South London Partnership collaboration (South west london & St georges, South London & Maudsley and Oxleas NHS Trust)

Plus an update on whats been done for staff to tackle.

  • Equal opportunity for career progression
  • Violence
  • Bullying & harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Stress
  • Flexible working

I guess as a carer, I do not ask for much. Still, I mentioned to the group…knowledge is power.

That is the August update for the Lewisham BAME MH carers forum.

Lambeth MH Carers Forum update August 2019

Welcome to the August update of the Lambeth Mental Health Carers forum. As a reminder the Mental Health carers forums are not primarily focused on discussing mental health benefits, but are aimed at carers supporting those with mental health needs. The forum usually has organisation who either provide mental health services, commission them or oversee the services e.g. Lambeth Council, South London & Maudsley, Lambeth CCG and Lambeth healthwatch besides others.

For the August forum we were fortunate to members and representatives from Maudsleys Older Adults and Dementia Advisory group. They presented to the forum what the group does over at South London & Maudsley and how they work with unpaid carers who are caring for those suffering Dementia, Alzheimers, Parkinson and so forth.

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Before I continue on with a brief update of the work of the older adults Clinical Academic Group, we also had on the August agenda the following.

I updated the member of the mental health Act debate, which focused on the reform of the mental health act and any pressing issues the government needs to take account of.

The debate was led by MP Neil Coyle Labour of Bermondsey and Old Southwark. One of the forums I hold being at Southwark Carers was invited to view the debate, but unfortunately many of the carers could not attend, so it ended up being the members of the Carers Lewisham forum who have visited parliment before.

I did actually update the members of the Southwark Carers forum the next day, particularly one of the Service user SLaM governors who was interested in attending, but most members are not sure what is to happen next. The Lambeth members are pleased to hear that Helen Hayes can attend in a joint Southwark and Lambeth MH carers forum around November.

Going back to the parliament debate, the following MPs took part in the Mental Health Act reform debate.

Nick Thomas-Symonds Shadow Solicitor General, Shadow Minister (Home Office) (Security)
Janet Daby Labour, Lewisham East
Kevan Jones Labour, North Durham
Debbie Abrahams Labour, Oldham East and Saddleworth
Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee
Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East
Johnny Mercer Conservative, Plymouth, Moor View
Steve Reed Shadow Minister (Education) (Children and Families)
Alex Cunningham Labour, Stockton North
Barbara Keeley Shadow Minister (Mental Health and Social Care)
Jackie Doyle-Price The Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care

Many members of the forums are interested in any more updates regarding the mental health act, because obviously whatever the government decides will affect families and unpaid carers supporting their close relatives who have mental health needs.

I also updated the Lambeth Forum on updates regarding the other forums I hold.

Being the following.

Southwark Carers

– Will have an NHS Serious incident investigator in doing a talk tomorrow at Southwark carers from 4 pm. She is a carer herself and could not make last month, but hope she attends tomorrow as she emailed me stating she is available
– I have also emailed Southwark council to attend again updating on their new carers group and any knowledge of the refresh of Southwark’s carers strategy. Southwark council now has a new project manager for the carers strategy.
– Southwark healthwatch are querying each of the 3 NHS trusts (kings, SLaM and G&STT) on their carers strategies and will update the forum

Carers Lewisham

– I have arranged for the past information manager and counselor to do a session next week about the importance of therapy. She is a member of the BACP – British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Which has made me aware of the lack of counselling and therapy for carers and service users.
– I have also arranged for SLaM quality improvement to engage with members for that day, and hope Aaron Brewer who is Quality Improvement Facilitator to attend or send someone else to attend to see who SLaM is doing on their quality improvement.
– I will update the Lewisham forum on the meeting I had with representatives from Lewisham council, Lewisham CCG and Lewisham carers chief exec on a bid we are making to build a Carers Lewisham ‘carers academy’. This bid goes to the governments carers innovation bid scheme and if successful we can train carers on several important aspects at the academy.

Lewisham BAME carers forum at Bromley Lewisham and Greenwich Mind

– I have arranged for the PPG chair of the largest doctors surgery in lewisha, to come in and educate the members about PPGs and carer focus at doctors surgeries. She might speak about the Lewisham PPG network.
– I have also arranged with the help from SLaM for a social worker Errol Chambers from the Lewisham Hospital MH unit to speak to members about his role.
– I will update the members on Lewisham putting together a carers conference raised when my MP Janet Daby attended earlier this year. One of the members spoke to Lewisham on how the conference should look like.
– I will probably also update the proposal from the Lewisham Senior commissioner CCG Karin Barthel on planning the Lewishams CCG stakeholder event.

As you can see as a carer I am busy querying lots of updates.

Going back to the Lambeth forum. The older adults advisory group works through the Psychological Medicine and Mental Health of Older Adults and Dementia Operations Directorate (PMOA). On the group are Service Users and Carers Advisory Group (SUCAG) members, over the years they have made many achievements one being project ‘If Only I’d Known’ where they seek to educate unpaid carers regarding for caring for older adults with dementia.

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The Academic group has been involved in contributing to SLaM’s End of Life Pathway, helping in selection and recruiting of staff. Plus having helping and being involved in research at Kings College London. The group have been busy engaging with SLaM’s inpatient wards especially focusing on families and carers there who are unsure of their role.

Royal College of Nursing involvement day

Rcn-logoThanks for stopping by. Here is another blog post by unpaid carer Matthew Mckenzie. This blog post is about involvement, but I have added to this post my involvement with another organisation the Royal College of Nursing. Usually I spend most my time at carer or community centres running family and carer strategy forums. We aim to engage with hospital trusts, healthwatch, health commissioners and councils. Most forums look to increase education and engagement on mental health and the health services.

Still, education is not enough and there should be involvement and empowerment for services users and carers. Anyway, I would like to put a bit of background into the RCN otherwise known as Royal college of Nursing. I have been hinting about nursing and the Royal college of Nursing from my previous blog posts, although there are many other organisations I will post about soon.

The RCN represents nurses and nursing, promotes excellence in practice and shapes health policies. It is the biggest and well known union for nursing in the UK. They do not just represent nurses, but also midwives, Mental Health nurses, health care assistants, assistant practitioners, student nurses and trainee nursing associates.

They have around half a million members and are growing in number every day. The RCN also have a vast history in the field of nursing and have made major impacts in advocating for the field of nursing in the UK. The RCN also runs forums, consultations, conferences and allows members to get involved or even become an RCN Rep.

It has not been an easy time for nurses or the NHS at present, I am not going to get too political today, but never has there been a greater need for the RCN to vouch for nursing as pressure is brought to bear on nurses via lack of funds, bursaries and incentives to stay in the industry.

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The RCN now wishes to expand its involvement and has been honest that in its prestigious history, it has lacked the drive to engage with its mental health patients, however many a large organisation can fall into this situation, although some are worse than others.

I have noticed that the RCN looks to take on engagement and involvement policies regarding its mental health programme, but to do this it must feed into its patient forum and also draw from Triangle of Care representatives. Of course no one is going to say such a drive is not without its challenges, but the sooner work begins on involvement, then the better the outcome.

Early this august I was invited to the first of many reference groups to collectively figure out inclusion and co-production within the RCN. I was joined by many patients and carers like myself. I did hear that reps from a mental health forum could not make it, but hope they are free next time.

The group was chaired and facilitated by both Catherine Gamble and Tim Coupland. Catherine is a RCN Mental health lead & Head of Nursing. She is also proactive in eduction practice & research at South West London and ST Georges NHS Trust. Tim Coupland is the RCN Programme Lead for Parity of Esteem and promotes many policies on mental wellness for all including nurses themselves.

I will not go into too much detail on how the group went, but I felt I was very looked after at the group and I felt everyone got their chance to have their say. We had many passionate and rich experiences from the members of the group, everyone truly deserved their place there. I was amazed that some members have had an impact promoting nursing and service user experience in other countries.

We each also asked what our involvement and interests lie, where mine was on the NHS Long term plan, mental health act and Suicide prevention due to my involvement at South London and Maudsley Suicide prevention group. I was excited to hear that the RCN have representatives engaging in the areas I have raised.

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There is however a lot I can say regarding involvement, inclusion, engagement, co-design and co-production, but I think I will leave that to another blog post. There is much out there that carers like myself can get involved with. We never have enough carers getting involved at an exciting and challenging time in the health services.

You can find out more about the Royal College of Nursing from the link below

https://www.rcn.org.uk/

My summing up of the day is that there is a lot of work to do, but I feel that the RCN as a body is massive and offers many opportunities even if it is just to understand its core principles and the future of nursing.

Carers and GP Surgeries

me_edited-1Welcome back to another blog post by unpaid Mental Health carer Matthew Mckenzie. I often write blog posts that try to focus on carer issues, but sometimes I stray into areas of mental health, events and the field of psychology, sociology and maybe psychiatry. Of course I don’t stop there. I run carer engagement/strategy forums in south London and every so often I tend to update how they went on this site. Feel free to check out my Youtube channel or twitter channels where one channel focuses on the carer experience and the other channel on mental health developments.

Enough with the shameless advertising, this particular post is on a much needed subject and it is aimed at unpaid carers, however I hope GP surgeries get the time to read considering at the last Lambeth forum there was major discussion on the Lambeth Patient Participation group network. I have also arranged for the Lewisham PPG chair of South Lewisham Practice to present and update the members of Lewisham BAME Carers forum.

But what if you are a carer and are dithering on visiting your GP or doctor regarding who you care for, or even yourself?

Young couple gets counseled by a doctor

My first advice is not to dither or wait it out. Vising your GP can help make major decisions easier. There are very good reasons why it is so important to visit your GP and one of them is if you are feeling unwell. Most carers tend to visit their doctor due to raising issues on their ‘loved one’s’ health.

Still if you think the person you are looking after might recover, then it is still a good idea to check up with your GP. Some chance is better than none at all.

Whats the risk in putting it off?

I bet if I was to look for some stats, then it would be horrifying. Too many people across the country tend to delay or put off from visiting their GP, males can be the worst offenders and then things get too late to be detected. Carers, especially those caring for someone with a mental health need, should be more cautious. The reason usually is that if someone suffering mental illness, it can be very hard to let others know of physical health problems as well. Families and carers need that professional advice to help come to a decision to get access to other health services.

GP as Gatekeeper

It is well known that a doctor is the gatekeeper to other services. Without referral to other services then recovery or support is that much harder for the patient.

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Many might be still waiting for access to their mental health trust, while some might be trying to access psychological therapies, although it has been made self referral. GPs should know where to send patients or carers if they are in need of specialist support.

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