Category Archives: Event reviews

Reviews of events I have been to

Reform of the Mental Health Act Debate

parliamentI was recently invited to observe an important debate regarding the Mental Health Act review. The debate was held at Westminster Hall over in Parliament on the 25th of July 2019.   It must be only the second time I have visited Parliament and if some of my forum members was not there, I would have easily got lost.

I have to thank the Lewisham carer members for attending the debate, it was a lot to ask of them. I wanted to also ask the Lambeth carer members, but that forum was on the same morning and I had to cut my chairing of the forum short. One of the members from the Southwark carers forum wanted to attend, but was held up and I know she is very involved in the mental health act review.

Before I continue, what is the mental health act?

The Mental Health Act 1983 is an Act of the Parliament and it covers how people who are brought into mental health treatment. The MHA also covers the care of mentally unwell persons. There are cases when a person can be detained, also known as sectioned, under the Mental Health Act (1983) and treated without their agreement.

It is important to remember that under the Mental Health Act (MHA), you can be detained if Mental Health professionals think your mental health puts you or others at risk, and you need to be treated in a safe environment.

When someone mentally unwell ends up being detained, they have certain rights.

– They have the right to appeal, and the right to get help from an independent advocate.
– To have someone explain what happens to you and why.
– The right to ask questions on why you are detained.
– The right to confidentiality, although this can be a tricky area.
– The right to be involved in your care plan.

There are also many other rights including equality, but these and other rights can be saved for another blog.

Why was there a debate on the mental health act?

The area many reasons for the debate on the mental health act, the most common being that the times have changed and the mental health act 1983 needs to reflect the changing environment. There are also problems with the mental health act, and I mean big problems.

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The previous Prime Minister asked the Professor of Psychological Medicine at the IOPPN (Sir Simon Weesley) to review the Mental Health Act. There have been numerous challenging mental health cases that challenge the legislation of the mental health act. These cases are very tragic and have lead to many serious incidents and investigations. Some cases have had very long delayed investigations and many patients and their loved ones have suffered for it.

The government is under pressure to provide a mental health law that protects those who come under its use. It does not help that the NHS is under pressure, plus funding for mental health services is stretched. Many have lost faith in the mental health act and feel its high time for a review.

Again, the problems of the mental health act should come under another blog and I have plenty to say about it, but I want to focus more on the debate. I wish I actually brought a notebook with me, because the debate was around 3 hours long.

We managed to catch the opening of the debate by MP Neil Coyle who is also a carer himself. We were proud to see my local MP Janet Daby who is also a carer herself, but the other MPs who attended I could not see their names so well and I probably will ask who else attended, so I can feed back to the 4 carer forums.  Some of the things mentioned by other MPs will strike serious interest with some carer members.

I do not know how the MPs do it, but there were many important and passionate points raised over the 3 hours. Obviously families and carer issues were raised by several MPs, but I missed some points from a female MP who spoke at length on families and carers, because…well I ended up napping. Still I woke up when another MP spoke about crisis cafes and some carers might be glad to hear one MP debated heavily on the review of patients choosing who should provide support, although controversial there are situations when patients are at risk from their family, but then when someone is very ill, the risk is that they could cut off those who clearly are trying to protect the patient.

Meeting Of Support Group

Being a carer myself, I have seen more instances of families being cut off due to confidentiality, although I am not saying carers are all angels, but if the NHS builds a wall of silence when a serious incident occurs, who is there to pick up the pieces? We must remember the NHS is under a lot of strain and it cannot be solved by just funding alone.

Moving away from updating how the debate went, I want to focus on my thoughts about the debate. I feel Labour are in a sincere battle to hold the government to account on the mental health act, which is difficult because of the several issues.

  • Brexit is bound to cause loss of focus on the Mental Health Act.
  • There is a risk that the NHS itself will be used as a political ball game in trade agreements with the US.
  • Only few of the amendments from Sir Simon Weesley’s review of the MHA have been past.
  • There is a  fear that the bill will be watered down or not even work.

It is not just Labour’s role in holding the government to account on the mental health act, we all have a part to play and yes, that means you!

If you are a patient or carer. I often tell families and Mental health carers to seek out their MP and query what their MP is doing for carers in their area. Families and carers who do so much for their loved ones, should have some interest in forming that connection to those that fight hard for their rights.

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There will be times when the MPs hands are tied and it probably is down to law, and this is one of the reasons carers need to be updated about the mental health act. I often tell carers to keep an eye on the Care Act 2014, I often moan about this act and how it is being dealt with in the community. There are so many laws and bills families and carers need to pay attention to, it is just not enough to read up on what to expect from health services.

Carers must learn to come together and speak up about their experiences, but of course they must be supported to do so. Unfortunately NHS culture has a long way to go to aid carer voices, but it does try and a lot of people in the NHS try very hard. It is not only the NHS, but social care, local authorities, carer charities and mental health charities that must aid in patient and carer identity.

I feel ashamed that I have not been more involved in observing parliament debates and have to thank Neil Coyle for given me the chance to view how MPs debate on such an important and personal matter. I am very impressed on what I have seen from the other MPs debating and I know the MPs are ready to hold the government to account. I look forward to the outcome of the debate and will try to get members interested on what the parties are doing.

National MH Nurses director forum – Building Resilience

D_BbtpdXYAEqkWdThanks for stopping by my blog-site. I thought to try and note down a lovely conference I was involved in as a guest speaker, but before I begin explaining more about the National directors nurses forum 2019. I want to pitch some ideas for any unpaid carer reading this blog post. Have you ever wondered what inspires team leaders on hospital wards? Have you wondered about how senior nurses inspire their staff? What makes nurses tick and how do they become more resilient in there roles?

As carers, I often try and get families and carers to become excited about the NHS. If not that, then try to inquire what the NHS is doing for you or what you can help the NHS in regards to promotion and co-production. We carers are unique in our roles and sometimes we stay silent and get on with it, but we should try use our voices to influence health services.

About the National MH Nurses director forum

I now want to talk about the forum which runs each year, I think the one for 2019 was the fourth of its kind. The NMHND forum aims to focus on leadership for mental health and learning disability nursing. It also wants to help spread best practice in mental health and learning disability nursing. It helps bring together those who work in the field of nursing to help raise the voices in regards to the pressures of nursing.

You can find out more about the National Mental Health Directors Forum (NMHND) off their site shown below.

https://mhforum.org.uk/

Plus you can find out about Directors of Nursing for the UK through the forum site.

https://mhforum.org.uk/trust-breakdown

The 2019 National MH Nurses Directors forum was held at Warwick University. I was impressed by the conference center and the facilities, which also had a bar, large canteen and many conference rooms. I was told Warwick University had many conference centers and as a carer guest speaker, I felt I was really spoilt since I was provided a room at the center, the Dinner, Breakfast and lunch was fantastic.

The theme of the 2019 NMHND forum was on “Building Resilience”, which was fitting due to the pressures the NHS is under. Plus if the NHS is facing large challenges, it will filter down from leaders, to senior staff and front line staff and guess what? The patient and carer will be next in line. So I was glad that the National MH Nurses forum raised the theme, but it was not moaning and groaning, we sought to find answers, solutions and inspirations into building resiliance. We do not want nurses to struggle and leave the profession.

About the Forum Chair and Organisers

To open the event we had Mel Coombs who is the Director of Nursing at Cambridge and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. I felt comfortable with her chairing style and that put me at ease as I felt welcomed. I was fascinated by her inspirational story into the role of Nursing and felt she was ever so dedicated in her field, but more on that later.

You can find out more about Cambridge and Peterborough NHS trust and their board of directors below.

https://www.cpft.nhs.uk/about-us/board-of-directors.htm

I was also welcomed by Professor Hilary McCallion CBE and was shocked that she remembered me from when I spoke at South London and Maudsley carer conference almost 6 years ago.

If it was not for Hilary, I doubt I would be speaking at the Nurses forum that day and thank her for involving me at such a level. Prof Hilary is the Director of Nursing and Lead Nurses National forum, plus she is also a Trustee of Dementia UK and Bethlem Museum of the Mind, which I aim to get involved on Bethlem museum latest project soon, watch this space.

Last but certainly not least was Peter Hasler who I have known for a very long time and has inspired me to get involved at South London and Maudsley as a carer when I first started out learning more about the NHS. Peter has many roles, but he is the Forum Development Officer.

What happened throughout the day

After the welcome by the chair, I spoke about resilience as a Carer and the impact of mental health needs in the family. I spoke passionately and from the heart as I wish to lead by example when I want to raise the profile of families & carers in the NHS.

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My talk consisted of the importance of Carers being empowered to network
My background and the Triangle of Care, plus the Health Service Journal.
Carers Navigating the NHS
The need for support from nurses and also resilience of carers.

I hope my message was inspirational and I felt those who work within the NHS have families and patients in mind. I want to inspire nurses to join and avoid leaving the profession, especially in the mental health field, which is very challenging.

We then had Ruth May who Chief Nurse of NHS England speaking about “Nursing Resilience in delivering the NHS Long Term Plan”. I am looking forward to hearing more on how she can help educate us on the NHS Long term plan. She answered many challenging questions from the audience and I noticed she has her work cut out, but her passion and drive shows that she will make great progress.

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After the break Prof Hilary McCallion spoke about patient Observations on inpatient wards. As a carer, her talk was easy to understand and there was an interest in psychiatry as she provided many insights as to why patient observations in hospital mental health wards was so important.

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I admired her knowledge and energy and I felt jealous when someone in the audience got her the questions correct and won a box of chocolates.

After the lecture the forum split up into 3 work-group sessions. The first session was presented by Learning disability nurses Simon Jones and Alison Williamson from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust on PBS in Forensic Services.

You can find out more about Oxford NHS Trust below

https://www.oxfordhealth.nhs.uk/

The second Session was on Stepping Up via Resilience through the CQC, which was presentation by Amanda Griffiths and Jane Fullard from the Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Trust, which recently got an Outstanding ranking from the CQC on their mental health services.

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This was the session I joined, probably due to the CQC paying even more attention to the Triangle of Care and being active on twitter, plus engaging with my Carer strategy forums. Amanda and Jane spent a lot of time education myself and other trusts in the room, which an impressive presentation. As a side note, I met nurse from SLaM based in Lewisham who spoke kindly about my presentation. I was glad we had more SLaM staff at the forum and hope they will also continue to engage with the carer forums.

You can find out more about Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Trust below

https://www.hpft.nhs.uk/

The third and final session was on How do mental health practitioners understand & experience resilience which was presented by Simon Wharne of Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. I have nothing but admiration for Sussex staff and their CEO Sam Allen who has supported my work for quite while and they are heavy advocates of Triangle of Care. I will never forget Sussex involving me as a carer at their event a while ago.

You can find more about Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

https://www.sussexpartnership.nhs.uk/

After a tasty lunch at the conference center, I got the feeliing at ate too much and it made me sleepy, but I couldnt help myself as I networked with NHS staff from other trusts. There are going to be some exciting projects coming up soon.

The forum moved on to Resilience in your NHS Career Journey, were we got to hear personal stories from Mel Coombs, Christine Hutchinson who is the Nurse on Learning Disability at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and Francis Adzinku who is the Service Delivery Director at Oxleas NHS Foundation trust.

You can find out more about Lancashire and Oxleas below.

https://www.lancashirecare.nhs.uk/

http://oxleas.nhs.uk/

I would like to give Special thanks to Warwick university and Radcliff conference center as I found the food, facilities and guest room excellent.

How I felt about the event.

I was delighted to be invited to participate in such an influencial nursing forum. If I did not blog on such a forum, it really would have been a missed opertunity. I felt the event was very well organised and kept to time.

I enjoyed the art work of the event done by Dr Pen Mendonca.  The art really summed up the day as words cannot always be the best representation of describing things.

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I hope to meet up again with Prof Hilary McCallion again over at SLaM and most of all I was impressed by the caring attitude of the audience making me feel welcomed as a carer among friends.

I would like to mention Lookout for my next blog which will be a video timeline of UK nursing throughout the ages.

Thank you for reading.

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National Co-Production week 2019

10177241_747738765268892_5890142387668348507_nWelcome to another blog by Matthew Mckenzie unpaid carer for someone close. Most of my website focuses on unpaid carers caring for someone with mental health needs and healthcare in general. I do not just often blog and post, I try to be active out in the community. I have been runinng carer strategy forums close to 4 years to seek co-production and engagement from those who provide health and social care.

Engagement from my local mental health trust has been fairly good, although getting people’s time is not easy, but engagement from commissioners is even more difficult, perhaps not enough staff perhaps. Co-production with the CCG’s and council has been very slow and sometimes I am wondering if it is valued, although I hear of some good works, I still feel its lacking.

Did you know that from the 5th of July it is National Co-Production week? This is the week were those who use services and their unpaid carers can use their voices to express what they know or want to understand about co-production. It is also a chance for health professionals to showcase their co-production examples and also learn how to increase co-production.

What is co-production?

Unfortunately co-production can be a loose term and is used all too frequently. To strip it down to its basic premise. It could be defined as “users of a system joining together to influence the way that services are designed, commissioned and delivered”. Still, such a term cannot be agreed by everyone and the meaning of co-production might chance over time.

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Even more importantly, co-production aims to shift the culture of power towards the end users, because the problem is what health commissioners and designers feel on who is experienced to create policies and commission services. It sometimes is not always health professionals and commissioners fault, as co-production becomes difficult if only a few users want to be involved.

This is one of the reasons why National co-production week helps to try educate others on the importance of co-production. It should be a time where patients and carers focus on what we can do, rather than what is always being done to us.

A culture problem

Health services, social care and psychiatry often suffer from a problem of a top down organisational structure. Only the experts know best and there is pressure for them to produce results. If its not about saving costs and producing quality results, its also the culture of the health professionals being highly educated to know what is best. History unfortunately has shown the mistakes where the culture of who knows best can do untold amount of damage to the community. The culture barrier can stop/limit the end user or community from using their voices to get involved and tackle inequalities of health and social care.

Co-production-ladder

Too often health professionals and commissioners have the idea that because the end user was not educated about health and social care, that some health experts feel end users do not have anything to contribute. The policies, practices and principles are guarded for dear life and the impact on the community is limited.

Too often health commissioners feel that funding community idea is the answer to co-production, when the focus should be on engaging with those who want to engage and help spread the message. It is not always about a cost cutting exercise and people want to be given the power to be heard and contribute to health systems and services.

Unpaid carers co-producing.

It can be difficult for unpaid carers like myself to aid in co-production. There is too few of us, we do not have the time and the sacrifice can be high. As for myself, I feel I tend to get on commissioners nerves as they give me the angry look when I ask for engagement or a chance to try co-produce. My experience as been fairly ok, but I do get the situation where commissioners tend to start hiding answers, do not respond, do not want to be in room, feel bored and evasive. I do not want to have to keep asking MPs to ask health commissioners and hospital leads to be dragged into community strategy forums. This takes up too much energy and leads to making powerful enemies.

Sometimes to be fair, there is too few driving powerful systems that do not have the time. It can be a resource issue in demanding time from those that are too few and want their reputation to be guarded. If this is the attitude of some health commissioners then one needs to wonder if they belong, if there is a sense of identity or if co-production has become rather token.

A need for belonging

It is not about power, we in the community need to feel we belong. The end user be it the service user or carer would like to feel examples of involvement. Since engaging with psychiatry and psychology, some things has rubbed off on me. I feel a stronger sense of how important people act, I can often sense the tone of voice, body language and if the person is being sincere. I am grateful for at least having some idea of those two fields, but it is almost depressing to think education rather than just experience of the impact of psychiatry and psychology is more valued.

I offer praise to those who respond quickly to engagement, especially a lot of staff at South London and Maudsley even though some are critical of the NHS Trust. The healthwatches from Lewisham, Southwark, Lambeth and Croydon and beyond have impressed me due to backing my carer forums immensely.  Plus the Carer Centres who host my Carer forums.

I thank the British Psychological Society for paying so much attention and engaging so much, I am still amazed they have time for my ramblings. I am proud to have support of Carers Trust and support of Jen Kenward from NHS England as they seek to raise awareness of the often quiet carer voice.

I also thank some of the MPs who have to make noise to ask those to attend carer forums, you know who you are. I thank the MPs for attending and keeping a close eye on how the forums are being engaged.

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Lastly I want to thank many NHS trusts who have involved me as their ‘adopted carer’ especially Sussex NHS Trust, WLMHT, Kent and Medway NHS Trust, Oxleas, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust,  CNWL, SWLSTG NHS Trust and many more NHS trusts focusing on the triangle of Care scheme and especially Ruth Hannan and the work WeCoproduce does. Sorry if I missed praise on others since there is so many to mention.

There is still a long road to co-production and I suspect it might never end, but if the healing results and impact of psychology, psychiatry and health and wellbeing are to improve, we must continue to focus on co-production.

More on Co-Production

Did you know that the Social Care of Institute for Excellence is very busy raising awareness of National co-production week?

If you want to know a bit more about co-production, check out my educational video below.

Check out their site for more information on co-production.

https://www.scie.org.uk/co-production/week

There are also other website and links worth reading during National Co-production week 2019

http://coproductionweek2017.blogspot.com/

CEO of We-coproduce view on Co-Production

https://www.kingsfund.org.uk/blog/2016/10/co-production-inconvenient-truth

Thanks for reading the very small voice of an unpaid carer.

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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.

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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.