Tag Archives: mental health

Mental Health Awareness Week 2023

Hello everyone, welcome to another blog post by carer activist and author Matthew McKenzie. To watch the video version of this blog, click the video below.

I raise awareness of those caring for someone with a mental illness. I also raise awareness regarding cancer carers. Those caring for someone with cancer can also suffer mental health due to stress, guilt, anxiety and depression. In fact everyone actually has levels of mental health. It is not just reserved for those suffering mental illness. We need to be aware and awareness events are just the thing to help with that awareness.

So from May 15 to may 21 it is Mental Health Awareness week 2023. Now this is an annual event to raise awareness of the importance of mental health.

The official theme for this year, as set by the Mental Health Foundation, is ‘anxiety’.

Mental Health Awareness Week will increase people’s awareness and understanding of anxiety by providing information on the things that can help prevent it from becoming a problem.

Anxiety disorders affect over 8 million people in the UK – that’s a little over 1 in 10 of us and there are lots of different types.

For carers as I have mentioned before, there are many things that can cause anxiety. The first is worrying about the health of the person you care for. We also need to remember that The cost of living crisis is affecting the mental health of millions.

You can Get involved this Mental Health Awareness Week by checking out Rethink mental illness, Mind, Sane, Mental Health Foundation social media and share on your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram profiles.

April Carer Forum Updates 2023

Welcome back to a quick update of my carer groups and forums. I have resorted to doing a brief update due my current projects raising carer awareness. As of this moment, I am writting fiction carer stories. You can check out my YouTube channel to view those stories. I have around 13 more stories focusing on caring for someone with mental illness, I will then work on stories focusing on caring for someone with cancer and follow that up with a book.

Until then, here are my updates below.

Lewisham Mental Health carer forum

For my Lewisham MH carers forum we had engagement from Mina Hadi who have lived experience of mental health. She is the service user representative for the Patient Carer Race Equality Framework over at East London NHS Foundation Trust.

Mina would have attended my ethnic carer forum, but there was a clash, so we agreed she can present at my Lewisham carer forum. I often say to members of my carer group to network. This is vitally important if carer members are involved in a community project. This is why I try to link up with other groups involved in increasing equity for ethnic minorities using mental health services.

Mina talked about the importance of PCREF and how East London NHS FT is working towards reaching out to marginalised groups. These being diverse ethnic groups, refugees, asylum seekers, the homeless and the LGBTQ community. All are vulnerable to mental illness due to discrimination, stigma and lack of support. Mina talked about what needs to be done and work in progress.

The next speaker was Dr Georgina Charlesworth from University College London.

She is the Associate Professor in Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology.

Her main focus is on dementia where she has wrote a number of papers. Some are shown below

  • Living alone and risk of dementia: A systematic review and meta-analysis
  • Befriending carers of people with dementia: randomised controlled trial
  • Peer support and reminiscence therapy for people with dementia and their family carers: a factorial pragmatic randomised trial.
  • Examining the Lancet Commission risk factors for dementia using Mendelian randomisation

Dr Georgina was joined by another researcher linked to North East London NHS Foundation Trust. Dr Georgina spoke heavily on the importance of dementia carers. She was impressed that such a carer forum existed and felt that we as a group set an example. Dr Georgina spoke about the problems of stigma and she talked about one of her projects, which was the Carer Supporter Programme within Prof Martin Orrell’s NIHR-funded programme entitled “Support at Home: Interventions to Enhance Life in Dementia”.

The new Alzheimer’s Society service manager for South East London was also due to join us, but were unavailable and I am hoping they will be free next time.

Ethnic mental Health carer forum

This is a forum not bound to a specific area. There should be places for minority ethnic carers to attend, so I often advertise the group to other NHS mental health trusts. The main group members are usually from South London.

The first speaker for this carer group was Abigail Babatunde from Kings College London. She spoke on updates for the project advanced directives black people.

The Advance Statements Project is a research project on getting advance statements – also known as advance choice documents or advance directives – to work for Black African and Caribbean service users who have previously been detained under the Mental Health Act, their carers, and mental health staff.

The goal of the research is to:

  • Help reduce detention under the Mental Health Act for Black service users,
    Support, hear and understand Black service users and their carers/supporters,
  • Know and further understand the issues surrounding using advance choice documents and why staff members may not follow them,
  • Reduce coercive care in mental health care, and to better the relationships between Black service users, their carers/supporters and staff/professionals.

There is a follow up event at the Ortus (Maudsley NHS) below.

The next speaker was Denise Mantell from Bromley council. Bromley Council is currently developing its Carers Strategy and would like to hear from as many carers as possible. Since Oxleas mental health services covers Bromley, it was a chance carers could get to be involved. It would help if the carers strategy involve those caring for someone with mental illness.

Talking about Oxleas NHS Foundation trust, we were joined by Japleen Kaur and Marie-france mutti. They spoke about the new Funding scheme – Improving patient and carer experience grants.

If those within Oxleas have an idea that will improve patient or carer experience, they can bid for funding (up to £750) from our charitable funds. The project ideas need to be developed jointly between members of staff and people who use Oxleas services or care for people who use Oxleas services.

Stages

  1. Application form completed and sent to our Involved Network
  2. Applicant informed of bid outcome
  3. Transfer of funding arranged
  4. Activity takes place
  5. Bidder shares photos/feedback on how funds have been used.

Scheme criteria

• The grant should be spent on enhancing the experience of people using our services and their families
• It should be used for activities/items that are not funded by trust services.
• It should benefit at least three service users.
• All bids need to developed joined with people using our services and staff members.

The first application period for the Improve Fund is open now until 31 May 2023.

If you have a query about the fund, please email: oxl-tr.involved@nhs.net.

Joint Southwark and Lambeth Mental Health Carers forum

Here are the update’s for my other carer forum I run in the afternoon for the last friday of the month. I used to run these forums seperately, but due to covering a lot. I have decided to merge them.

We were delighted to be joined by another speaker from University College London. This was Dr Rebecca Lacey who talked about her study on Young Adult carers in the UK.

This was following off from Carers Trust “Young Carers Action Day”, but unfortunately it was too late for Dr Lacey to attend in March.

Staff from Lambeth Carers Hub attended to hear more on her research.

You can read Dr Lacey’s paper on the link below.

https://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/19/21/14076

The next speaker was Sarah Allen who is the Head of Patient Experience at Guys & St Thomas NHS FT. The hospital trust is currently working on their Carers Strategy. I often to say to all carers that it is very important to engage with hospital service carers strategy.

It is not enough for a carers strategy to exist, but to be used to hold services to account as in “You Say We did” focus.

GSTT want to involve families and carers in all aspects of their services.

They aim to recognise, value, include and respect carers. Plus treat them as expert partners at the heart of decision making for the person they care for.

I also presented the new NHS England hospital discharge toolkit to the group, there was a bit of confusion as some felt the toolkit was for triangle of care.

https://www.england.nhs.uk/london/our-work/carers-and-hospital-discharge/

In the end I pointed that this was for acute hospital services in London.

I am also pushing to engage with GSTT Cancer and Surgery Clinical Group to raise the profile of cancer carers. Once I have built a group of cancer carers, I am hoping for engagement for that hospital trust especially regarding the cancer group. I am also getting support from Kings NHS and eventually will expand to other hospital trusts.

South West London MH carers group

This group is a hybrid as there is a carer-led peer focus for the first part of the group. The next part is finding out about services and how they are supporting carers.

The group is strictly carer-led and co-facilitated by SW London carer Ava. She does the peer group section, while I will focus on speakers and engagement.

We had a great turnout as all 5 carer centre’s help promote the group, but we can out of time for the peer support section. The group seeks engagement from the local mental health trust South West London & St George, but this can be difficult, probably lack of staff maybe? Still we got engagement from Kingston Hospital who have a strong carer focus.

We where joined by Beth Mburu who is one of the Clinical Liaison Practitioners. Kingston Hospital is working on their carers focus and Beth talked about the following

  • Hosp. Discharge Planning Toolkit (aimed at staff)
  • Carers’ Needs Assessment Template (augmenting and embedding the Carers’ Agreement)
  • Carers’ Passport
  • Triangle of Care – hospital self-assessment tool and lessons learned/embedded
  • Resource for first time Carers / people who give their time to support a vulnerable person
  • National resources -already in existence from Carers’ UK – communicate and disseminate to the right people
  • Live/real-time digital tool aimed at Carers’ drawing together local provision and resources
  • Safe Transitions of Care – checklist for front-line staff
  • Hospital checklist / advice and Information

Kingston hospital NHS FT also had a carers event on the 4th of May to engage with carers and let them know about the work they are doing to support carers.

Again I am also focusing on engagement from the hospital’s cancer services to prepare for my cancer carer group. It is important to know who does what and how they focus on cancer carers.

A story of hope by Matthew McKenzie

Welcome back fellow carers to my blog site raising awarness of unpaid caring by carer activist Matthew McKenzie. I have now released my 7th carer story off my YouTube channel. You can watch the story for free at the end of the blog page. The new carer story now uses advanced AI voices, although I am still experimenting with some new techniques.

This new story is called “A story of Hope”, a longer story than my previous carer stories. This story focuses on raising awareness of same sex partnerships and the impact of mental health. It is unfortunately common for LGBTQ+ to go through higher rates of mental illness. Stigma often hits those groups and to make matters difficult we need to account for mental health stigma.

The story examines a woman’s race to say her partner. Many things are against her and she is unsure of herself. She was never a strong woman, but that all changed when Susan entered her life. As we all know, life is not perfect and certainly not predictable.

Now Eve has to fight for her love, she now has to understand what it means to be a carer. If you love someone then you want to care for them. However is Eve’s love enough? She now finds herself in new territory and making the wrong decision can be costly.

The story raises many themes including the anxiety of being a carer, feeling lost in the system and trying to rebuild relationships. Eve tackles many difficult experiences and discussions. What she finds out about mental health services makes her journey challenging as a carer.

Still, providing unpaid care will give meaning as to why we fight so hard for those who need us.

You can watch the story for free below.

Cygnet Carer event – Maidstone Hospital

Welcome back to another blog by carer activist Matthew McKenzie. I often blog about raising awareness for those caring for someone with mental illness. If I am not raising awareness, then I am more likely speaking at events or conferences.

I am helping to promote a carer’s network with Cygnet Healthcare who are taking on the challenge of applying Triangle of Care into their services. So far I have opened several carer events at some of the Cynet hospitals around the country along with other speakers who are invested in raising the profile of unpaid carers.

For this event, I attended Cygnet Hospital over in Maidstone for another regional carer event. This was an opportunity to engage with carers from the area of Kent, especially since I am involved with Kent and Medway NHS Partnership Trust. So I was keen to travel to Maidstone and talk to carers.

We had a packed room of carers and professionals interested to hear talks about the importance of supporting carers.

There were certain things I was looking for at the hospital, especially the effort staff had put into promoting the carer event. I noticed lots of leaflets introducing what Cygnet can do for unpaid carers. Other information was on Cygnet’s carers strategy, carers passport and a chance for people to feedback about services.

I even managed to view the carer’s board.

We had some excellent speakers at the event. Plus it was great to see David Wilmott who is Cgynet’s Director of Nursing open the event. We also had a powerful talk from Lesley Mellor who told her story as a carer and the importance of carer empowerment.

Other speakers were Stephen Firn OBE who is Cygnet’s CEO for Healthcare division. Stephen spoke about his mission to make sure cygnet hospitals have a high focus of carer awareness. During my talk, I reminded attendees that when senior staff attend such events, it shows how the organisation values unpaid carers.

For my talk, I read poem number 28 on the importance of a carer’s network. Often carers do their role in isolation and behind closed doors.

The nature of the illness makes it difficult for mental health carers to connect due to stigma of caring,, being unsure of their role and also the stigma of mental illness.

I asked both professionals and carers their thoughts on the importance of providing care and the importance of connecting to a network.

I was proud that the healthcare professionals were knowledgable about the importance of including carers when providing services. This is done within the spirit of the Triangle of care.

We also had talks and presentations from Dr Erica De Lange who is Cygnet’s Regional director of Psychology. Plus Caroline Harris-Birtles who is Head of Nurse Education at Cygnet Healthcare. She educated carers about the importance of the nursing profession and how nurses can help unpaid carers.

Lastly we had a talk from Jennifer Vincent who works at Involve Kent. Jennifer is the team Lead in the Community for Carers. Involve is an organisation that focuses on Healthy, connected people and communities. Jennifer talked about how Involve empowers and support Carers, enabling them to care well for others and improve their own health and wellbeing.

I again have to thank Laura Sheridan who looked after both Lesley, myself and attendees at the carer event. I look forward to more events in future.

March Carer & Mental Health News Updates 2023

Latest carer and mental health news for March by carer activist and author Matthew McKenzie

March 2023 Carer and Mental Health news <- read more news items here

For the March edition on unpaid caring and mental health we have

Swindon Carers Centre – Young Carers Action Day 2023 – Video of Swindon Young carers Action day 2023

Northamptonshire Carers Podcast – Podcast of Mark Major CEO of Northamptonshire Carers talking about the growth and success over the last 30 years

“Important step” for Carer’s Leave Bill as it passes Second Reading in House of Lords – Carers UK has campaign to get carers a right to Carer’s Leave

Supporting Oxfordshire’s army of unpaid carers – Oxfordshire County Council to develop a new all-age unpaid carers strategy by a process known as coproduction.

Surrey County Cricket Club and Carers Trust have join forces

Lambeth: New young carers card design competition – A young person has won the ‘Lambeth Young Carers Card Design Competition’ run by Brixton based independent charity Carers’ Hub Lambeth.

Cygnet North West Regional Carers Network Event – Blog of Cygnet Carers event.

Bromley Carers Strategy Survey 2023 – Bromley Council is developing its Carers Strategy and want the views and experiences of unpaid carers to inform the content of the strategy.

Carers Trust marks 50 years of caring for carers at special Old Bailey reception – Carers Trust held an event tonight in the Grand Hall of London’s Old Bailey to mark fifty years since the setting up of the UK’s first ever carer organisation

Carers and Hospital Discharge Toolkit for London Hospitals and Community Providers – Toolkit to help providers improve the experience of carers during hospital discharge.

Give feedback on care – CQC – Person you care for using a service? Give feedback here.

Cost of cancer is damaging mental health – A new survey has found that 83% of people with cancer say unexpected expenses since their cancer diagnosis are impacting their mental health.

Kingston University students share insight and tips for Young Carers Action Day

Mental Health foundation – Racism and mental health – Blog about racism and mental health from Mark Rowland, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation

March Carer Forum Updates 2023

Welcome to my March update of most of my carer forums. These forums are for those caring for someone with mental illness. The idea of the groups is to allow unpaid carers a chance to find out about mental health services. The forums also allow researchers from universities and hospitals to update carers on current trends affecting carers and mental illness.

Lewisham Mental Health carers forum

For this carers forum we were delighted to have Bobby Pratap from South London and Maudsley NHS attend. Bobby is the Director of Implementation for the borough of Lewisham. This means in laymen’s terms that a large investment I guessing around 100 million will be focused on changes to mental health services in the borough.

With that kind of investment, it is vital for patient, carer and public engagement. Bobby comes with a wealth of experience straight from NHS England’s as the Deputy head of Mental health.

Bobby presented the challenges that mental health services face in the borough of Lewisham. He also presented some feedback from engagement events under South London & Maudsley. Bobby was certainly tested by the members of the forum who grilled him on NHS trust resources.

I also presented the new NHS London Hospital discharge toolkit. Since the Carers UK 2021 report, it has been widely known that unpaid carers feel uninvolved in hospital discharge. Carers complain that they are invisible to the NHS. So NHS London carer leads have come up with a hospital discharge checklist

The benefits to involving carers in hospital discharge are

Some Benefits

Reduced carer strain and breakdown
Patients less likely to re-admitted.
Caring situation is more sustainable
Better health outcomes for both patient and carer
Reduced overall cost to system

With some Accute hospitals taking the lead, there is hope other hospital will become carer friendly and see unpaid carers as part of the team.

The resource can be downloaded from below via Carers Trust Website

https://carers.org/resources/all-resources/142-carers-and-hospital-discharge-toolkit-for-london-hospitals-and-community-providers

South west London Mental Health carers forum

This forum is facilitated by myself and Ava who is a mental health and carer campaigner. The forum covers the boroughs of Kingston, Merton, Wandsworth, Richmond and Sutton. As a group focusing on mental health carers, we get support from the carer centres and from local Mind and Rethink organisations.

There was no speakers for the group this month, so I presented the hospital discharge carer toolkit. I also covered updates regarding the Triangle of Care.

Joint Southwark & Lambeth MH carers forum

For this group. Carers had a chance to find out what a Mental Health Solicitor does. We were joined by Burke Niazi Solicitors. The solicitor who represented my late mother had engaged with our group to answer queries, issues and questions. The forum was well attended and even some had attended from my other forums.

We were also joined by Lee Roach who is Lambeth’s carers lead for Maudsley adult services. Lee is also the Head Occupational Therapist for Lambeth Operational Directorate. Lee updated carers from Lambeth on services related to triangle of care. I was also interested in how Southwark carer leads were engaging with carers. It might take a while for them to drop by our group since Guys & St Thomas NHS are due to attend next month to speak about their carer’s strategy.

Lastly the group was joined by Guy Swindle who is the Deputy Director of Lambeth Living Well Network Alliance.

Greenwich Mental Health Carers forum

I only run this group Bi-monthly and Greenwich carers heavily supports the group. We get great support from Oxleas NHS and the Royal Borough of Greenwich often attends when they can. For this group we had engagement from Lisa Moylan who is Oxleas head of Mental Health Legislation.

The main reason I asked for Lisa to engage with the forum is to allow carers to understand what the department does, but also get an idea of how the Law department will deal with the new changes to the Mental Health Act. The MP will also chat with carers about their thoughts about proposed bill.

At the group, I updated members on updates regarding Greenwich Carers Strategy.

Some of the updates were

Raising awareness of caring with local employers
Developing a carers self-assessment app
Research with carers from ethnic communities
Further development of the Mobilise digital platform
Exploring feasibility of a Carers Card

There are plans Greenwich carers partnership board to Engage with local GPs and Engage with hospitals. Talking about hospitals, I also presented the London hospital carers discharge toolkit.

Ethnic Mental Health carers forum

This is the only forum that I run that focuses on carers from ethnic communities. It is also a forum that can actually reach out via several mental health trusts as sometimes we get attendees from SWLSTG, West London Health trust, Kent & Medway and CNWL, but the main focus is what South London & Maudsley or Oxleas are focusing on. The group also engages with speakers from universities and researchers. We also can get updates from the local authority or Healthwatch.

The speaker for March was Natalie Creay who is Founder of Liberating Knowledge, she is also on the advisory board of The Lancet Psychiatry magazine and a trustee of The London Community Foundation.

Yes, she does a lot. Natalie spoke to us regarding health inequalities of Black and Asian people. Her research looked at Closing gaps in patient data for Black and South Asian communities.

Through the focus groups and interviews they conducted with healthcare staff. It was found that

  • Staff were less confident about describing why data is collected or how it is used
  • Staff felt that a lack of people in leadership roles who are committed to tackling bullying, institutional racism and health inequalities
  • Some staff also referred to a concern from Black and South Asian communities about whether they can trust the NHS given past harms
  • There were innovative ideas proposed such as the NHS being more radical in how it thinks about data ownership and giving more control to people and their communities over their data and the insights generated from them.

It was found that The burden of tackling health inequalities rests on people with lived experience.

There were several recommendations regarding the research, some listed below.

  • Create the conditions for systemic change to enable the following recommendations to be delivered by accelerating efforts to eradicate racism within the NHS. This should include developing the cultural and racial capability of the workforce.
  • Consider developing a race equity framework for physical health services that draws on the approach used for the Patient and Carer Race Equality Framework in Mental Health services.
  • Secure the support and commitment of senior leaders to improve data practices, embed inequalities work and create space for staff to innovate within the NHS.
  • Actively challenge ‘hard to reach’ narratives that encourage the perception Black, Asian and minoritised communities are disengaged or unwilling to share their patient data.
  • Equip healthcare workers with the tools to hold meaningful conversations about data: explore more innovative approaches that provide engaging ‘bite-size’ learning material targeted at healthcare workers.

This led on to one of our members Brenda who is a member of the Patient Carer Race Equality Framework to report back how Maudsley is using the framework to increase health equality and reduce racism. We also got updates from the Public Health Training and Development Manager for Lewisham who have been working hard to reduce health inequalities within ethnic communities. This was emulated on projects from Bromley, Lewisham and Greenwich Mind Updates.

This concludes most of my carer forums for March.

World Social Work day 2023

Welcome back to another carers blog by Matthew McKenzie. It recently was World Social Work Day, which took place on the 21st March 2023. The theme for 2023 World Social work day was ‘Respecting diversity through joint social action. Social workers are very important if you are caring for someone. It helps to get that extra support regarding your role as an unpaid carer.

Social workers are becoming a rare resource these days, so it is important to raise awareness of social workers. It is also important to value them. World Social Work day allows social workers worldwide stand together to send the common message of relieving people’s suffering, fight for social justice, and improve lives and communities.

Social works help people with health, psychological or social problems. This in turn builds healthier communities. It was fortunate I was allowed to present at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust World Social work day event.

The event took place at Maudsley’s conference centre “Ortus”

The event organisers used the theme on learning from the voices of service users and carers in mental health social work.

We had some great speakers from that event. A special mention to Jo Lambert and her mental health focus. You can check out her books in the link below.

Recognition Project

I started off my presentation on what I feel was the importance of world social work day. Of course I asked the audience what they thought about the awareness day. I then read a poem from my book “The Poetry book of mental health caring”

You can see my presentation from my video below.

The poem I read was called “My Story”

I then told how my carer’s journey unfolded and how Social workers worked with carer and service user.

How did Social workers helped my role as a carer?

  • I explained to the audience that it was important that social workers are knowledgeable of the services and explained them to my mother and myself.
  • Some social workers saw me as an asset. Some social workers saw me as part of a support network helping to support my mother.
  • It is important social workers use psychology to help heal. Some social workers talked about what can be done, rather than what could not be done, so constantly providing a positive focus.
  • One of the most important roles of a social worker is explaining about carers assessment. The carer’s assessment is an important tool for a carer to learn more about their needs.
  • Lastly referring me on to carer support was invaluable
Embed from Getty Images

All in all the NHS Maudsley gave me a powerful voice to promote my voice as a former mental health carer. I hope awareness of social workers continue to grow

Focus Group Recruitment- African-Caribbean older adults

Depression is up to 60% higher in people from ethnic minorities than white people. There is also variation in the healthcare management of mental health conditions according to an individual’s ethnic background. The extent to which variation in access to treatment options for mental health conditions impacts on quality of life is not well understood. Therefore, the aim of the focus group is to explore the perspectives of Afro-Caribbean people with a mental health diagnosis on access and delivery of care.

There is research looking to recruit 10 people of African or Caribbean descent with a mental health diagnosis (and carers of those with a mental health diagnosis (who themselves are Afro-Caribbean)) and are over the age of 50 to explore their perspectives on the care and access they received.

Participants will be involved in a 90-minute online focus group via Microsoft teams and will be reimbursed for their time. See poster below.

The group will be facilitated by Rhian Milton-Cole, a PhD Candidate at King’s College London. During the session she will ask questions relating to the patient’s experience of seeking support for their mental health conditions and any barriers they faced. Rhian will also ask about which treatment options were offered to them and if they found these acceptable and lastly if they believe the care offered to and received by Afro-Caribbean people is the same as the care given to and received by Caucasian people.

If interested please contact

Name: Rhian Milton-Cole
Email: Rhian.1.milton-cole@kcl.ac.uk

February carer forum updates 2023

Hello carers, here is another update from most of my carer forums. Usually I try to update on each of the forums, but due to spending time writing books and raising carer awareness, it is not always possible to update each forum page.

  • Lewisham Mental Health Carer forum update

For my Lewisham group, South London & Maudsley want to engage with the London borough of Lewisham to explain new ideas for mental health services. There will possibly be a revamp of the Ladywell Unit that is based at Lewisham Hospital.

The speakers who looked to engage with carers were Sir Norman Lamb and Bobby Pretap, but unfortunately the meeting had to be cancelled.

The other speaker Angela Brient who is a PhD Researcher in Public Health spoke about the Impact of trauma. Angela spoke about her lived experience, which comes from caring for her husband who sustained a spinal injury whilst on deployment with the Australian Air Force in the Middle East. She was his primary carer for over a year, but ultimately, her husband took his own life.

The carer’s group were grateful for Angela’s insight and we learnt more of the Impact of Trauma course that Dr Julie Langan Martin mentioned to me a while back. Dr Julie is the Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry at the University of Glasgow. We are hoping to hear more updates on the Impact of Trauma course at a later date.

  • Joint Southwark & Lambeth Carer forum update

For my joint mental health carer forum over in Southwark and Lambeth. Carers were delighted to get engagement from Helen Hayes MP for Dulwich and West Norwood. Carers spoke about their past experiences of providing unpaid care, but the main topic was the progress of the new Mental Health Act. Members of the group are very keen to observe the debate in Parliment.

Other carers were interested to speak to Richard Okolo on how a mental health solicitor could help someone who has been sectioned. Richard could not make the forum, but we hope to hear from him in March.

  • Ethnic Mental Health Carers forum Update

This carers forum specifically focuses on the experience of ethnic and diverse carers. Our first speaker was a carer on involvement at South London & Maudsley. Currently Maudsley NHS is an anti-racist organisation and seeks to increase health equity. South London & Maudsley NHS is signed up to the Patient Carer Race Equality Framework (PCREF). PCREF exists to eliminate the unacceptable racial disparity in the Access, Experience and Outcomes of Black communities and significantly improve their trust and confidence in our mental health services.

Annette Davis who is the Chair of the PCREF Service Users and Carers Group then gave updates to members. Annette mentioned that PCREF is a UK wide NHS initiative and South London and Maudsley are one of the first Trusts in the country to address institutionalised racism in the NHS. We heard updates on new flyers to advertise to the community on how they can hear updates or get involved in being an activist.

The next speaker Dr Brenda Hayanga spoke about her new research “Ethnic inequalities in multiple long-term health conditions in the United Kingdom: a systematic review and narrative synthesis”. Yes, I know it is a long title, but I do not know many research papers that have short titles.

Still, the importance of this research cannot be underestimated as I had just published my 4th book regarding health inequalities.

Dr Brenda will be speaking at an exciting event in april. The event focuses on Ethnic inequalities in healthcare for people with multiple conditions.

At the event there will be the following speakers

  • Katherine Merrifield from the Health Foundation
  • Dr Habib Naqvi who is Chief Executive of the NHS Race and Health Observatory
  • Dr Jayati Das Munshi who is a Clinical Reader in Social and Psychiatric Epidemiology at KCL.
  • Eve Riley who is based at Macmillan Cancer Support
  • Jabeer Butt OBE whose work looks into tackling discrimination and disadvantage.
  • Dr Brenda Hayanga who is a Research Fellow at the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, King’s College London

The final update at the ethnic MH carers group was from Carers UK Melanie Crew. Melanie is the Senior Policy and Research Officer at Carers UK. Melanie talked about the new initiative on Good practice guide on supporting ethnic minority carers. The briefing follows Carers UK’s landmark report examining Black, Asian and minority ethnic carers’ experiences of the pandemic.

You can find out more from the link below.

https://www.carersuk.org/press-releases/carers-uk-releases-good-practice-briefing-for-supporting-black-asian-and-minority-ethnic-carers/

  • South West London Mental Health Carers group.

Obviously my 3rd biggest group, which covers 5 london boroughs. The group is co-facilitated by Ava who is involved at Kingston Carers Network and SWLSTG. The group is getting lots of support from the 5 carer centres.

We had a visit from Kirsty McLachlan who is based at Richmond Borough Mind. Kirsty is the Carers and Parents in Mind Manager and is very keen to promote the forum in our Carers in Mind monthly newsletter. It is great to see support and promotion about unpaid carers.

Our 2nd speaker was Chloe Smith who is the Healthy Communities Builder from Kingston Voluntary Action. She was joined by BBC MultiAward winning Poet, Michael Groce. They are working on a set of poetry workshops aimed Black, African and Caribbean Communities over in Kingston. There will be guest poets that will come and inspire people’s work throughout the weeks ahead by sharing their own stories and work. I was the guest poet for week 2 (more on that later).

You can watch a promotional video below

The third speaker was Wendy Doyle who is the Head of Patient Experience St Georges university hospital. This is one of the hospitals were I run a carer’s stall. Wendy updated our group on the carer’s focus the hospital is planning. Wendy also updated us on a healthwatch report.

February Carer & Mental Health News Updates 2023

Latest carer and mental health news for February by carer activist and author Matthew McKenzie

February 2023 Carer and Mental Health news <- read more news items here

For the March edition on unpaid caring and mental health we have

Unpaid Carers in the Workplace – Debbie Hustings – Webinar from Crossroads Surrey on unpaid carers in the workplace.

Carer’s Leave Bill – House of Commons Debate – Gagan Mohindra

Carer Story 4 – Never thought it could be me – Video dramatization of matthew’s carer stories.

The carer network – Matthew McKenzie’s carer network poem

Upcoming events for carers, family members and friends of patients – West London NHS Trust

88 charities form coalition to campaign on unpaid care

Time to Talk – Support for people with dementia and their carers

Carers Trust – Young Carers Pledge

Carers UK Supporting Black, Asian and minority ethnic carers

New racism targets introduced for hospitals just as NHS scraps top race roles

LGBT+ History Month, the GOsC and me

RCSLT news February 2023: prescribing campaign, anti-racism report, and updates from around the UK

Mental Health Nurses Day 2023

New Mental Health Crisis Services launching in south east London

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