Lewisham Mental Health & Wellbeing Event 2017

smallerWelcome to another blog post from Matthew Mckenzie a mental health carer in South London.  Hope you are enjoying my site so far, so feel free to check out some of my other creations, that being my YouTube channel, twitter channel, mental health newspaper and audio.

On the 14th of February i attended the Lewisham Mental Health & Wellbeing day 2017 “What Keeps Me Well?”.  Which is a very important topic regarding mental health and wellbeing. The event lasted from 10:00 to 4:30 pm and was held over at Lewisham Town Hall.

The Mental Health & Wellbeing day was held in conjunction with
Lewisham CCG
Lewisham Council
South London and Maudsley NHS Trust
Various community groups and charities (sorry if I have missed any out anyone)

Feel free to view the video version

What it was about?

Usually held every year, I feel it is a great chance to not only bring the mental health service providers, council and health commissioners together, but also a chance to bring the local community groups and charities to promote their services to the public, patients and their families or carers.

As mentioned before the theme of the event is “What Keeps Me Well?” and usually there is a different theme each year.  The workshops held later during the day focused on the theme and helped to educate the attendees on wellbeing.

Who was there?

The first thing I did when I arrived at the Town hall is sign in and head to the advertising stalls.  It is one of the best place to network with different community groups, old friends and fellow carers.   Here is a list of the stalls I visited.

Service user and carer advisory group (SUCAG)
Including Some representatives of MHOAD

This is an ‘umbrella’ group which enables service users, relatives and carers (past and present) to discuss views and feedback to inform the development and delivery of SLaM services.

Healthwatch Lewisham

Healthwatch ensures local people’s voices counts when it comes to shaping and improving local health and social care services


Sydenham Garden Project

Sydenham Garden is a unique wellbeing centre utilising its gardens, nature reserve and activity rooms to help people in their recovery from mental and physical ill-health in Lewisham.

Action for refugees in lewisham (AFRIL)


AFRIL is a grassroots charity, based in London, working with refugees and asylum seekers to relieve poverty and social isolation.

Bromley and Lewisham mind


Bromley & Lewisham Mind works to improve the quality of life of adults affected by mental health problems or dementia.

Carers Lewisham

Carers Lewisham supports Carers in the London Borough of Lewisham aged 5 upwards. They provide a range of services including advice, information, emotional support, breaks, opportunities to meet other carers, and time out from caring activities.


Usually available 24 hours a day to provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts.

South London and maudsley membership and engagement

Provide mental health service for those experiencing chronic mental health issues or problems. This stall was advertising membership to the trust, council of governors and engagement.

IAPTS service

Service from SLaM or South London and Maudsley. IAPT stands for Improving Access to Psychological Therapy and is an NHS service designed to offer psychological therapies (CBT) to people suffering from anxiety, depression and stress

Lewisham Warm Homes

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Helping those to keep warm over the winter months can help prevent colds, flu or more serious health conditions such as heart attacks, strokes, pneumonia and depression

Change Grow Live

Used to be CRI, leading charity championing people who have faced hardships such as addiction, homelessness and abuse, and supporting them into recovery.

Family Health ISIS


FHI services targets people from the African/African Caribbean community, who have been experiencing mental health Challenges.

SLaM carers support information

Providing information for carers and families on supporting someone with a mental health illness as well as themselves.

Council Chamber sessions


The Lewisham Council chamber sessions featured a set of 3 talks and a Q&A panel session.

Carmine De Rosa talking about St Marys therapeutic garden project

Lots of work has been done renovating the St Marys Church garden.  We were shown a series of picture slides from the event’s chair Carmine De Rosa.  Gardening can be therapeutic and contribute to the wellbeing of those involved and it is exciting to see a project finally develop.


Councillor and Lewisham MH champion Jonathan Slater

Jonathon was at the event talking about Living well project and Lewisham MH and wellbeing strategy.  Jonathon talked about the importance of including carers and service users into shaping Lewisham’s mental health strategy, he has worked very hard to put mental health in the councils agenda and there is still a lot of work to do.  Not all questions have a quick answer or solution, but Jonathon stressed that if we all worked together as a community then anything is possible.


George Howard talking about London’s MH Transformation programme

George Howard spoke about the importance of developing a London wide Mental Health Transformation program where efforts will be made to close the mortality gap regarding those suffering mental ill health.  The program will look to develop and enhance wellbeing for children and young people, connect with those who use social media and develop services for those suffer post-natal depression.

Q&A session

This part of the wellbeing day gave a chance for those in the audience to raise questions to selected members of the panel and also provide statements and feedback.  I felt this part of the event highly important because people do not always want to be told updates and not be able to ask difficult and challenging questions.  I was told several times during the event that the Q&A session was one of the highlights of the day.

Workshop sessions

The Morning and Afternoon workshops consisted of the following, one of the workshops I helped facilitate.  Unfortunately I could not stay for the afternoon session, but from what I noticed, there was a very good turn out for each and every one of the workshops.

  • Service user involvement: What does it mean for you?
  • Mindfulness for carers
  • Lewisham Jobcentre Plus workshop on MH and wellbeing
  • What’s important for MH Carers and how can they be supported
  • Wheel of well-being
  • Lewisham recovery journeys
  • How to cope with Medically unexplained symptoms
  • Gardens and Health – how gardening can keep us well
  • Lewisham public mental health and wellbeing strategy – the next steps

Summing up

It was a shame the Mental Health and Wellbeing day did not occur in 2016, but I was not disappointed in 2017.  Out of all the past wellbeing days, this event stood out because it allowed even more involvement from Service users and carers (like myself). I am thankful for Lewisham CCG for allowing me to host a workshop and providing a platform for the community to engage and focus on what keeps us all healthy not only in body, but also in our minds.

As a note, I would like to invite mental health carers like myself to book themselves at Carers Lewisham ‘MH Carers forum’.

Mental Health Open Forum

I am looking forward to the next Lewisham Mental Health and Wellbeing day. Till Next time.


Top 10 things that carers should like

fotolia_73087289_xsHello everyone to welcome another blog post for February. I usually do carer awareness videos and mental health videos.  You can check out my blog site, which has more information about mental health and carer awareness information.

Feel free to also check out my newspaper and my Twitter channel, I also have an audio site which has podcasts. However should updated that soon.

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The Sussex NHS Trust #Hackathon event

10177241_747738765268892_5890142387668348507_nWelcome to another blog post by mental health carer Matthew Mckenzie. On this blog post, I want to talk about making a difference as a carer. Back in December 2016, I was invited to help judge a Hackathon event from Sussex Partnership NHS Trust, they provide mental health services for people living in south east England, that being the areas of Brighton and Hove, East Sussex, West Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and Medway.

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Time To Talk Day 2017

coverWelcome to another Blog post by a carer from South / South east London. If you can, feel free to like or subscribe to blog. My website “A Caring Mind” raises awareness on mental health and carers, mainly carers most of the time.

Well on the 2nd February, it is National Time to Talk Day. The day is dedicated to get people talking and break the silence around mental health problems.

It so important people talk because Conversations about mental health change lives.

If you wish, feel free to watch a video I made for Time To Talk Day

Anyway, here is some facts and pointers about Mental health and Stigma.

The Facts 

  • 9 out of 10 people with mental health problems experience stigma and discrimination.
  • 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem
  • The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent

What is mental health stigma?

  • Mental health stigma boils down to attitudes people or society can take towards those suffering mental health or their own mental health.
  • People can latch onto myths about mental health believing that hiding mental health problems can make it easier to cope.
  • People can sometimes shun those suffering mental health distress believing they could be worthless, unpredictable or difficult to deal with.
  • Continued mental health stigma can lead to reduced quality of life of those suffering mental health and their supporters, carers or caregivers.
  • Mental health stigma does not only affect the social network, but can also cause increased unemployment of those suffering mental health distress.

Well I hope you enjoyed reading this latest post.  Good luck on your caring journey.



50 ways to cope as a carer

Matthew Mckenzie (2)Welcome to another blog post from a carer in South London. It has been a while since I have last posted anything, but this is due to spending my attention making videos on my video channel. I have also been quite busy editing my newspaper, which is always worth a read.

Anyway, I thought to post ways to cope as a carer. Basically a carer is someone looking after a loved one, or someone close. An important fact is carers are unpaid and often have to struggle to get recognition. A carer is not a care worker, they are unpaid and not emotionally attached to who they work for.

Since carers struggle to cope due to spending so much time caring and worrying for who they care for, I hope these tips will provide some benefit, as a note anyone can also incorporate these ideas for wellbeing.


1. Read a magazine

It is difficult to get much rest as a carer, even if not doing chores for the ‘cared for’, there is usually an element or worry or concern. It can be very hard to switch off, so reading a magazine can provide a way to focus on your interests.

2. Getting some sleep

One of the most basic tips as a carer is to get some sleep, it depends of course if the carer is not overwhelmed by tasks or emotionally drained.

3. Close your eyes

Another basic way of shutting out the world, you do not have to focus on sleeping, but it is a good way to slow things down. Closing ones eyes could end up with the person sleeping, but the main point is to shut things out for a while.

4. Drawing

Another way of focusing attention off caring for a while. The good thing about drawing is that anyone can do it, as long as you have drawing utensils and paper. Drawing also allows you to be creative and express yourself.

5. Write a thank you note

Another way of coping and feeling better about yourself is sending a ‘thank you’ note. Carers can send a note to a health professional or an advocate who has done the carer a good job.

6. Count to 100 when stressed

Carers, especially mental health carers can sometimes end up in an argument with whoever they are trying to support. Its helpful to find methods or a way to cope if becoming stressed and a good way to do this is count down or up to a certain number.

7. List for the future

Not always so easy to do, sometimes we could say listing for the future is a frightening thought, but it can also be a coping mechanism in order to avoid too much chaos in one’s life. Even if not tasked for a coping mechanism, it is important to try plan for the future as a carer.

8. Inspirational quotes

I recently made a video about quotes that can inspire as a carer, I am bound to make some more. You can view the video below. Quotes can inspire and help us deal with difficult situations and can quickly affect our mood.

9. Compliment yourself

Not only for carers, but for anyone. If we are dealing with a difficult situation, we often can fail and this can lead to us blaming ourselves when things go wrong. Taking time out to compliment ourselves can remind us that we deserve a break and that we are not as we make ourselves out to be.

10. Visualization

A difficult coping method. Visualization is a powerful coping mechanism when things get really difficult as a carer. We can visualize our problems away, visualize ideas and focus on something else rather than a stressful situation.

11. Smile at others

Not always so easy and does depend on the environment. As a carer, smiling at others, especially if their world is falling apart can actually help towards people supporting you. Smiling at other people can also brighten up the persons day and make you more approachable.

12. Do your tasks

Not for everyone, doing a set of tasks before they day gets to an end can make someone feel a lot better about things being done. With carers it might be never ending, but worth trying to get most things out of the way.

13. Notice 4 things you see (stop and look)

Can be very difficult to do because we have to try suddenly focus on outside appearances. Learning to stop and focus on something else requires habit forming, it is a way of limiting stress or depression getting out of control. A difficult, but brilliant coping mechanism, which basically requires a person to simply stop what they are doing and just look around them for 3 to 4 items around the room as a way to bring them out of depressing cycles.

14. Relaxation applications

Due to the increase usages of the internet, mobile phones and other gadgets. It is only a matter of time before we as carers take full advantage of what is on offer. Most relaxation applications are free, so its worth downloading an app to see how it can make your role as a carer easier to cope with.

15. Watch a funny movie

One of the most easiest coping tip. Taking time out to watch something you enjoy can reap a whole lot of benefits.

16. Cook something

Not for everyone, although cooking can be therapeutic. Plus cooking can also be a chore that is done for the day.

17. Plan a trip

Carers often look for a break from their caring role and there can be nothing better then planning for a trip, even if a carer is not able to take that trip, planning for a gateway can at least remove us from the present situation for a while.

18. Identify your emotions

Highly important as a carer and can help with deescalation techniques. Carers who are under too much pressure can find themselves becoming so unwell that they end up using the mental health services. It is important carers take time out to find out what their emotions are in order to regulate them.

19. Express your feelings to someone close

Some people cope by expressing their thoughts or feelings, as long as those thoughts are not combative or too negative, it is a perfect way of getting rid of something bothering them.

20. Write your thoughts

If expressing thoughts or feelings to others is too difficult, then writing about them is also a very good way of coping as a carer.

21. Identify any thought positive

Absolutely a must. To pick up positive thoughts about ourselves can help us cope throughout the day, not easy to do, but the effect is high impact and lasting.

22. Schedule your day

Another coping mechanism that can limit the chaos in a carers life. Its always important to try get the easier tasks out of the way then focus on the more difficult situations.

23. List 10 positives about yourself

A good thing about this tip is that it can be stored somewhere so a carer can look at them later. Think very hard on what you need to write, what we make of ourselves can define us.

24. Tell someone your appreciate them

Not always so easy to do when under pressure, but can be a good way to cope as a carer because it is a form of expression and forming closer bonds.

25. Ask for help

A critical method regarding coping strategies, it can be very difficult to cope as a carer by themselves, so having to ask for help allows others to help you cope. Think of going to a local carer center or looking into your rights as a carer.

26. Listen to peaceful sounds

An excellent way of coping as a carer, it can be useful to block out distressing thoughts and sounds.

27. Taking deep breaths

Similar to counting to a certain number, but more powerful due to certain situations. If we can regulate our breathing during stressful situations, it can make us become calmer.

28. Do something positive

Sometimes a carers role can be extremely tiring and stressful, it might become a point where a carer feels unappreciated and that can actually be quite common. Doing something positive for someone or something can allow us to feel more appreciated. Think of volunteering for something, but do not allow it to eat up into your role as a carer or your own free time.

29. Exercise

The number one of coping strategies and a perfect way to keep yourself fit. Any exercise is good as long as you sweat and feel a little tired.

30. Think of something funny

Not as easy as it seems, since we spend most of our time worrying or thinking about the past, especially on “If Only scenarios”. Thinking of something funny can have a large affect on how we feel about ourselves and also give us a lighter outlook.

31. Take a brief walk

Not as physical as exercising, but walking does help, especially if things get too much. Removing ourselves from a situation, especially an argument can be a very good coping mechanism.

32. Do some Yoga

A long term method for coping and some carers centres actually have yoga sessions. It is worth following these sessions up and learning some yoga.

33. Stretch

Easy to do, but difficult to remember on when one needs to stretch. As with the mind, the body can suffer if we get to stressed and focused on negative situations, remembering to stretch and be a good way of coping as a carer.

34. Listen to music

If not able to watch a movie, it is worth taking time out to listen to your favorite songs.

35. Get Some Rest

Not the same as getting sleep, but taking time out even if to sit down can help you cope as a carer.

36. Positive self talk

This can be used with quotes, listing positive thoughts and so on. Unfortunately it does require a bit of habit forming, but positive self talk allows for carers to cope easier within their role.

37. Talk to a friend

A highly recommended tip for coping as a carer, if things get too much, speaking to a close friend has a high impact on the coping situation.

38. Getting therapy.

This depends on what is needed, can vary from talking to an advocate to private sessions, not always a common method for carers due to costs and time, but useful if there are limited options.

39. Meditate

Easy to start, but often hard to continue daily. Meditation can be a powerful way of calming the mind and slowing down the world, remember to meditate on what is noticed rather than just calming the mind straight away.

40. Use a stress ball

Worth getting hold of in order to cope, the last thing a carer should do is take out their frustrations on the ‘cared for’, tragic as it is, there are always other options to destress and a stress ball is so cheap to get hold of and use.

Here are some you can purchase from Amazon.


41. Dance

Similar to exercising, dancing can be a great way of coping in difficult situations.

42. Hug someone close

Being close to someone even if its not the ‘cared for’ can help on a carers emotions.

You can watch the rest of my coping tips and ideas in a video I have made. Good luck on your caring journey.

How Your Brain Works – Lecture Review and summary

Welcome back to another blog post by mental health carer Matthew Mckenzie. Every so often, I run through a review from a lecture course, many lectures courses I tend to go through are based on psychology, psychiatry, ethics or even philosophy. I feel it is very important those caring for loved ones suffering mental health problems at least pay some attention to such fields, even if there are things they might not understand.

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Top 10 mental health tips for the new year

2017 goals list on napkin

Happy New Year!! Welcome to another blog post from a mental health carer. This time I am going to write about what could help you for 2017.

I do not know if 2016 has been a good or bad year for you, but what better than to have a clean start for 2017.  On this blog post I will provide 10 basic mental health well-being tips that could be useful for a new years resolution.

If you want to see the video version. Please click below

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