I recently came back from an event held by an award winning social consultancy called “We Coproduce”. The event was a 2 day look at Trauma and its causes due to the tragady of Grenfell Tower, it was one of the best times for the community over in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea. When I arrived at the event, I was amazed to see how many of the public turned up and how many were interested in the talks.
Many speakers were talking at the event including
Dr. Gabor Maté
Dr Karen Treisman
….and many more.
I remember being sat in the audience listening to the speakers and learning not only about Trauma, but psychology and psychiatry, even though as an unpaid carer I often feel distant from such subjects. The event was hosted by Jane Mcgrath who is very active in the community advocating for better mental health outcomes for all.
Still, one thing about the event got me thinking. A lot of what was mentioned at the event was community, especially due to the horrific events that occurred in June 2017. If there is one thing to learn from the Grenfell tower tragedy, it is how communities come together and look to speak as one to hold others to account. The 2-day event was also important because so many were affected by the outcomes of the tragedy in regards to mental health. Never was it so important to look at our mental health services and how it should support the community or perhaps how the community has the power to support itself.
Community from a carers perspective
As an unpaid carer caring for someone using the mental health services, I often think to myself the importance of community. I feel as a community we all need to come together and share what affects us. I feel I cannot be the only unpaid carer in the community I am in and I often seek to connect with others about how my role affects me. As an carer being in the community is not enough and it can be so easy to be isolated from each other, especially if one is also suffering mental ill health. A community that has an interest in health can lead to a healthier community, but such events like the “Trauma Matters” event can help bring the community together and help in healing and learning from each other.
My loose interest in sociology
As you go though parts of my website, you will notice areas of psychology, psychiatry and sociology. I know that psychiatry basically is interested in how mental health affects the individual, but what about when mental health affects groups of people? How about when mental health affects the community? This was one of the reasons why I wanted to attend the event and examine what was spoken to the audience and the questions raised.
I often understand sociology gets a bad rap for not being scientific enough and maybe that is ok, but I still feel it is so important to understand how groups, community, organisations work, grow are are alive when it comes to health and well-being. It is so interesting to delve further into how we are all connected even though we feel pressured to get on with our own lives.
Being active in the community
Living in the community is not enough, we must be active in the community, I am no expert speaker on this, but I often observe and think to myself “What makes a good community?”. When I travel and network with mental health forums, groups or organisations, I am amazed with the work “We Coproduce” does. They have done so much for the community not only in their own area, but further afield.
You can find out more about them from the site below.
I always have in my mind, what is working in one area of the community and what is not working. One thing I look for is what people are aware of who is running their mental health services. Who understands who commissions the services, how involved is the community and are people listened to? I certainly will like to travel and network with other parts of London, but I have been so welcomed in west London, it almost feels I am part of the community.
Showing you care
Not only being active in the community is important, but showing you care about the community. At the “Trauma Matters” event, a lot of what was mentioned and shown was showing people that there is always a chance for recovery. The event showed that health, wellbeing and healing can really help the community and if one is active and showing they care about the community and that they care about themselves, it can influence others to do the same.
Yet, we must connect with each other, which is not an easy thing to do.
We cannot always advocate for better mental health in isolation. If we want change, we need to be active in the community and do things for the community. Never before has so much pressure been placed on the community, if it is not only austerity, it is the pressure of resources. The mental health system has become more about auditing and less of a sharing on the recovery journey.
There just is not enough time and there are just not enough health professionals. Life is more faster pace and everyone wants to get where they need to go in a hurry, that they do not even stop to think about their life. We are all almost competing with each other rather than connecting and sharing. The field of caring for others is one of the core roles of a carer, but a good carer can notice when the community or environment is uncaring. If it is not youth stabbings, which again is a disease, it is lack of resources, if not that then it is lack of control and power for the community to decide it’s own outcomes in mental wellbeing.
A shared aspect
When I examine community due to attending the event held on the 15th of June, I think about how people live and I think about the area they live in. I think about what really is important to people? Is living enough? Or do we as a community want more than just getting by? Do we as a community always seek to impress others? Or do we really care not only for ourselves, but for others?
Each area I travel to, I look for what is unique in that community, I look for its identity. I look for who is active in the area and how they focus on health and wellbeing. When I try to attend the forums run by We CoProduce, I look to see who attends and how they work on coproduction. I especially look for Clinical commissioners since one of their focus is to involve themselves in the community and find out what really matters when it comes to mental health, health and wellbeing.
We in the community have a shared purpose, we want healthier communities, but for a community there should be co-production. It might seem basic and easy at first, but co-production has become a buzz word and there is a lot more to it than getting peoples views and then wandering off. Health commissioning should allow for joint ownership, especially with those who take the effort to engage as a community to seek better health outcomes for all. As a community we need to share that purpose, but unfortunately has mental health and health provision changed fast enough for the needs of the community?
Core values of the community
Communities move and shape and evolve, It might seem that society stays in one place, but as I learnt from the Trauma event, organisations and communities are organic and alive. Communities have a mind of its own are deeply affected by what happens in the community. People should be made to feel part of the community, what happens to one person can easily spread if no one cares to take notice. I often think back to how Joyce Vincent who was actually born in Hammersmith died in isolation and was undiscovered for 2 years over in her flat in Wood Green.
Cases of isolation, neglect and deprivation leaves a stain on the community. Especially when it comes to mental health, it can be all to easy to be isolated and forgotten. As a civilised nation, we often proud ourselves how things can be structured and put in place, hidden away as if to know there is nothing fragile to be shown. All I can say is no matter our identity, we should try to care for each other. We should try to connect and find out what is going on.
It should not be about business as usual and trying to get ahead, competition can be exciting, but it can often go against the community in so many ways. Mental health does not just affect the individual, it affects whole communities unseen or not. Mental health is there.
The final word on community
Due to the Grenfell situation, it shows that if something like that happens in the community, we all feel it. A good community wants others to be a part of it. A community should feel welcoming and share its identity, without sharing or caring, we can risk isolation. It can happen to us all and it can happen quickly. A common goal of each community unfortunately is not enough. If we can learn from each we can be active in shaping the community for health and wellbeing for all, which is the focus of the NHS. We cannot be doing the same thing and expect different results.