Category Archives: Event reviews

Reviews of events I have been to

Health and well-being in the community

https___cdn.evbuc.com_images_50751415_246297577353_1_originalI 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
Donna Lancaster
Marta Antero
Ruth Culver
….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.

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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.

https://www.wecoproduce.com/

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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.

Being there

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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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Triangle of Care – Learning from each other

Giving helpWelcome back to another blog post from unpaid carer Matthew Mckenzie. I often blog about the situation many mental health carers face up and down the UK, however not only do i write about the caring journey, I get involved and take the initiative to network with many other unpaid carers supporting ‘loved ones’ with mental health needs.

I champion and praise many projects that work towards the good of the community, especially health care projects and the ones that take note of families and carers have my keen interest. One of these projects looks to create good practice and work towards culture change in regards to the carer journey. This policy is the called Triangle of Care, which I have blogged about a while back.

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The triangle of care works towards bringing together unpaid carers, carers’ centres, third sector organisations and mental health service providers to work together to insure best practice for mental health services.

When I attend triangle of care meetings I am often amazed at the dedication and work that many NHS mental health service providers share with each other. The lastest triangle of care meeting was hosted by Kent and Medway NHS trust over at Dartford, we were joined by many other NHS trusts where some already were members, while other are working towards joining, we also were joined by other other carers and third party community charities.

As a carer, I learnt so much about the work mental health trusts were doing and i am impressed to see many london NHS trusts attend and share knowledge about the work they do including Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, Oxleas, South West London St Georges, Surry & Boarders NHS Trust, Berkshire NHS trust, the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and many more.

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One of the strong points of The triangle of care is self-assessments for existing service provision, this was achieved by Kent and Medway two years ago and I have learnt that KMPT has been awared their second star for for completing self-assessments for all community services (all mental health, learning disability, older people and dementia and substance misuse services). I would like to offer my congratulations to Kent and Medway NHS trust and hope they keep building on their success.

You can learn more about KMPT from their site https://www.kmpt.nhs.uk/

Plus feel free to check out Kent & Medways work on the triangle of care below.

https://www.kmpt.nhs.uk/carers/triangle-of-care/

Another strong point of the triangle of care is principles. Principles are usually things people can often try and remember and the triangle of care has six.

These being :

1) Carers and the essential role they play are identified at first contact or as soon
as possible thereafter.

2) Staff are ‘carer aware’ and trained in carer engagement strategies.

3) Policy and practice protocols re confidentiality and sharing information are in place.

4) Defined post(s) responsible for carers are in place.

5) A carer introduction to the service and staff is available, with a relevant range of information across the acute care pathway.

6) A range of carer support services is available

More details can be found on the triangle of care below.

No one is saying such principles are easy to achieve and a lot of hard work and dedication has gone into culture change in the mental health services. We need input from all involved being staff, patient and carers.

You can learn more about the triangle of care here.

https://carers.org/article/triangle-care

One thing I want to note is that every time I attend such meetings, I have always felt I managed to contribute as a carer, especially since I network and hold forums with other carers in South London, I feel us carers can work together and feel part of the system, rather than battling the system.

I look forward to the next Triangle of Care meeting hosted by South West London st Georges NHS trust.

One last thing to mention is we are due to hear some exciting news from the Royal College of Nursing and I hope carers will be a strong focus point in the work they will do.

I would like to thank KPMT for letting me use the photos and well done Kent and Medway NHS trust for their 2nd award.

Happy Nurses day 2019 everyone.

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World Suicide Prevention Day 2018

wspd_candleWelcome everyone, This blog post is about World Suicide Prevention day.

World Suicide Prevention Day is held each year on 10 September. It’s an annual awareness raising event organised by International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).

World Suicide Prevention Day gives organizations, government agencies and individuals a chance to promote awareness about suicide, mental illnesses associated with suicide.

If you would like to see the video version of this blog post, please click on the video below.

This year the theme for World Suicide Prevention Day is “Working Together to Prevent Suicide.”

Although it is difficult news to share, More than 800,000 people take their lives each year across the world. In the UK, more than 6,000 people die by suicide a year.

  • Feeling hopelessness and that there is no point
  • Consumed by negative thoughts
  • Feeling unwanted by others
  • Thinking or feeling that you have no other choice
  • Assuming everyone would be better off without you

Suicide or those suffering from illnesses that can lead to suicide can affect more than the victim or person themselves. A death of a loved one can affect the family, friend or their carer. Unpaid carers can play an important role in providing support for someone suffering suicide thoughts.

What to do if you are suffering from suicide thoughts

  • Speak to some close you can trust.
  • Contact the Samaritans on freephone 116 123.
  • Contact your GP.
  • Call NHS 111 (England).
  • Contact your local crisis team.

What can you or others do to help raise awareness?

  • Raise awareness that suicide is preventable.
  • Improve education about suicide.
  • Spread information about suicide awareness.
  • Decrease stigmatization regarding suicide.

 

Mental Health Awareness week 2018

Welcome to a new blog from a mental health carer in South London. This video helps to raise awareness of mental health. Specifically mental health awareness week 2018.

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What on earth is mental health awareness week you say? I actually have done a few videos on the awareness event some years back, but let me refresh your mind.

As a note, I have also done a video version, press play to watch it.

Mental Health awareness week aims to raise awareness of mental health and mental illness or health needs. Mental illness can affect us all ranging from minor mental health problems to chronic mental health needs. Mental Health Awareness Week runs from 14th to the 20th May. For 2018 the theme is on stress. Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes

Without campaigns or events to raise awareness about stress and mental health, many people would fall victim to stress, which can actually get out of control. We all experience stress and minor levels can actually help us achieve what we are trying to do, but prolonged and high levels of stress can cause damage to our mental and physical health.

Sad man sitting head in hands on his bed in a bedroom at home

Stress can affect your mood, behaviour and body. Stress can cause any or a combination of the following.

  • Headaches
  • Sleep problems
  • Lack of focus
  • Social withdrawal
  • Feeling overwhelmed

Stress can also lead on to other mental health issues being

  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Depression
  • Addiction problems in order to cope with stress
  • Eating issues

Sometimes what we need is to recognize when we are stressed and either stop or behaviour or seek help. Taking time out from stressful situations can do us a world of good, especially speaking to friends in the community.

So what have I done for MH Awareness week 2018? Not only did I promote awareness via this video, but I took part in a Curry & Chaat event over at Southwark carers. It is important not to forget those who try to protect and care for someone with mental health needs.

I hope this blog has been educational to you and hope you have a happy mental health awareness week 2018.

Self Harm Awareness 2018

siadAlthough Self Harm awareness day has just gone. I thought to do a quick post about mental health needs regarding self harm.

Self Harm awareness day 2018 is celebrated to bring awareness to self injury or self harm. Not all self-harmers are in need of help, but if harming gets out of control, there needs to be adequate care and safety for sufferers. Friends, family and the self-harmers carer can also be affected, especially psychologically.

Self Harm or self injury awareness day usually runs on the 1st of March each year. Raising awareness about self harm can also help educate the public and lessen the stigma affecting those who self harm.

Continue reading

STELEO Art Exhibition

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Welcome, on this blog I talk about the art event that took place over at The Coffee Lovers Cafe’. The art exhibition was a joint work of the patients / service users of the STEP and LEO mental health team.

If you wish to see the video version please click the video below

A bit about The Coffee Lovers Cafe. The Coffee Lovers Cafe is a lovely Moroccan themed cafe situated in Lambeth, the staff are friendly and the prices are very reasonable. If you ever get the chance, it is worth dropping by for the lovely atmosphere.

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The art exhibition title ‘STELEO’ was hosted by Arts therapist Paula Moclair who provides art therapy at South London & Maudsley. As I arrived at the Cafe, Paula greeted me and showed me some of the works on display. I was glad to be in from the cold and the warmth of the cafe certainly made a difference. Plus there was lots of refreshments on offer.

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It was not long before some of the artists turned up to speak and present some of their work. First to chat about her work was Marian Saidik who produced the work “Hub of Roses”.

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Mariam mentioned that the work produced made her happy and felt the work’s aim was to be a gift to others. She started art at a very young age, but has interests in the environment, language and fitness. Mariam explained to me about the use of colours and the importance of expressing the art work.

Paula then spoke to me about her art, each of her art work had a theme and focus. The first work shown was titled “Lurly-Lurley”, which seems to express the use of words and the relation with her sister.

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Paula then spoke about three other pieces of work shown here. One showing the toliet and her cat focused on the patron saint of miracles. The other picture shown in blue was to do with Yoga and the last being about the experiences with her sister at a young age.

Soon I spoke to another artist who talked about the flower they made and how they liked flowers, plus the flower represents life

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The next service user spoke about the work she produced, which I noticed a visitor spoke kindly about. The visitor felt that the patterns from the work produced called out to him. When I asked the artist to explain more about her work, she mentioned how she enjoyed creating patterns.

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More artists arrived and spoke about how Paula helped them produce the work and how they appreciated the help. They felt that art was a positive force in their life and a good hobby. They was not too worried about their art work selling since they could always take it home later.

The artist also showed more of his work off his mobile phone.

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Near the end of the art exhibition we got to hear from the art therapist who explained the latest developments from the past year and how it was good to see people’s work framed. One of the artists also spoke about how good it was to see his art on show and how it overwhelmed him.

I also made a speech stating that I was proud to see the end results of all the hard work patients and staff from the LEO and STEP team had put in and I was happy to see the end results of the funding by the Mausley ‘Lets Smile’ charity.

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All in all, the event inviting, inspiring and it felt great to talk to friendly people. I hope more work can be produced for the next exhibition.

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.

family at sunset

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.

Young couple gets counseled by a doctor

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.