Welcome back to my website. I have been busy working on my latest projects. I am raising awareness of unpaid carers. My speciality focuses on those caring for someone with mental illness.
As a poet and author I have several books on amazon that focus on the lived experience of unpaid carers.
I have just released my latest story, which can be difficult to listen to. Still, it is important to tell things how people experience them. My latest carer story called “Angry” focuses on a young mother thrown trying to fight for the right to care for her daughter. The struggle is made difficult because the mother is angry at the world, but the system is so cruel that her daughter is now at risk. Can her mother provide care in time?
So far I have produced 4 other carer stories which you can watch below. These carer stories are all taken from the audiobook that I am working on. The audiobook will be called “Providing Care & Other short stories”. As usual the audiobook will raise awareness of those caring for someone with mental illness.
The next carer story is titled “Never thought it could be me”. This story explores what it is like to become a first time carer. We all think we might provide care when someone gets old, but life can change at any moment.
Below is another story about providing care. There are those thrown into providing unpaid care because family members feel they are not obligated to care. This story below explores the world of a young girl trying to provide care for her mother, but does her family understand why she is providing care?
The next story below “Digging out of a hole” explores the role of a male carer or what his understanding of a male carer is. The problem is that the young man is doing his role out of concern for his sister. No one else is there to help, so he feels he has no choice. The last thing he is concerned about is being thought of as a carer.
Below is my first carer story which is the main theme of the book. The story below is called “Providing Care”. This story explores the situation of a first time mental health carer. I feel the story below does rush things a little since as I believe the process of discovering mental illness can be a slow painful journey. If you wish to view the story, click on the video below.
Welcome back to another blog by carer, poet and carer activist Matthew McKenzie. I am working on an audiobook of fiction carer stories. These stories focus on the experience of mental health carers.
When I am talking about mental health carers, I am referring to friends or mainly someone in the family caring for a relative.
The stories are from the audiobook “Providing Carer & Other Short Stories”, the audiobook will contain 20 short stories focusing on the struggles unpaid carers face, young carer challenges, discrimination ethnic carers may face and overall raising that awareness.
I have now released the 2nd short story called “Digging out of a hole“, which can be watched off my YouTube channel below. The story is how a young man struggles to face up to the role of being a mental health carer.
Welcome to my latest poem off my poetry project for 2022. My focus is on unpaid carers who look after someone suffering mental illness. Many unpaid mental health carers up and down the country sometimes get frustrated when it comes to being heard. I myself have experienced this, although do not get me wrong. There are times when those in the mental health services can actually support and listen to families, friends and carers.
It is not always the problem of not being listen to or not being heard. Many carers can be confused about what their carer’s rights are. If mental health services are under strain then there will be situations when mental health professionals will not have time for carers and will not often remind carers of their rights.
Sometimes carers are aware that there is nothing the professional can do, but they would still like to be heard on the situation, there might even be a slight chance that something mentioned from the carer can give some hope.
Feel free to check out my poem off my YouTube channel below.
Welcome to another brief update of my BAME mental health carers forum for October 2021. I have not been reporting off my carer forums that much due to finishing up my latest book about mental health carer experiences.
You can by my latest book on the link below.
You can also find an overview of chapter 1 from my YouTube channel below.
I am now working on my 3rd book which will be a large number of poems also on the carer experiences. It is not set for release until 2022, although I have been reading out my poems at carer groups for preparation.
The carers forum usually runs once a month and its focus is on ethnic diverse carers who are caring for someone with a mental health issue, although the forum started in Lewisham, it has expanded with the support of mental health services of Oxleas, so it has extended to Bromley, Greenwich and Bexley.
Speakers for September 2021
George Hosking OBE CEO of Wave Trust – Wave Trust on Young black wellbeing
Dr Tim Ojo – Psychiatrist on Black History Month Reflections
Doreen McKenzie – Black History month Poetry
Emilie Wildeman – Patient Research project at Institute of Psychology, Psychiatry and Neuroscience
Lara Sengupte – Breakfast Clubs again Racism.
This particular forum focused a lot on Black History month which ran for October 2021. One of the speakers from NHS England & Improvement could not make it, but they did attend my BAME carers group for Novemeber, which I will blog about soon.
George Hosking OBE presents on his project for youth mental health
George Hosking CEO of Wave Trust spoke about his charity, which helps to prevent children suffering child abuse, neglect, and those witnessing domestic violence in their homes. Over a number of years, the charity has become very aware of the impact on mental health, which has led to people suffering childhood trauma in some kind or other. George mentioned a huge number of mental health problems can be traced back to childhood experiences in that way. George stated the charity has experts on trauma. He himself is a clinical criminologists, psychologist, and traumatic stress counselor, his charity supports organizations and individuals to learn how to support people who have suffered trauma in their lives.
George included that one of the things they do is they help set up trauma informed communities around the UK. These are communities which really try and provide the best possible support to people who have suffered some form of trauma in their lives. This includes a lot of people with with mental health issues and these communities can be of two types. They can either be created top down by working with the NHS and local authorities and police to create a rather statutory based organization, or else it can be created from the grassroots working away from individuals in the community. They have been working now for about two years with the Black and ethnic Community where the charity is based, leading to creating a trauma informed community.
George was thinking about the possibility of doing some trauma informed community work in Lewisham, due to Lewisham Council recently inviting organizations to make an application to provide emotional health and well-being training to those working with young people in leadership.
What his charity is looking for is people who will help young people to spot the signs of poor mental health, and guide those young people towards mental health support especially in the black community. WAVE charity has got a background on this because of their knowledge of trauma and mental health, that they can provide that kind of guidance and support. They have got the facilities to train people to be more adept at doing this sort of thing. Unfortunately what they don’t have is the links in Lewisham to people who are working with young people, particularly people who are working with young people with an interest in mental health. George did realize that our forum’s focus is very much on carers rather than supporting young people. He did do a Google search to look for an organizations in Lewisham with interest in mental health and thus Matthew’s forums came up.
So George contacted Matthew who kindly invited him along today just in case, someone from within carers forum is aware of or are even interested in what that charity could potentially allow involvement in.
Lara Sengupte presents on Breakfast Clubs again Racism in Lewisham
It was Lara’s turn to speak about her project and how it came about. They are currently in the pilot scheme phase. So they have been running projects since July, and the piloting finishes in December. By then they are going to be analyzing the results of the clubs. They run two breakfast clubs, one in Catford, and one in Peckham (Southwark). The goal is basically to educate young people on racism, how it shows up in society, and how to combat it. This particularly on internal racism.
Lara knows for a lot of young people of color, which relates to mental health, that can carry around a lot of negative self talk and negativity, all the negativity that we see in the media, and through like school exclusions there is a lot of racism against young people of color. The big challenge is that young people and children don’t exactly know how to process it. So that’s one thing that our clubs want to tackle. So they are running educational Saturday breakfast clubs for young people throughout autumn term. This is not just for Black History Month since they have been running them since September, and will finish them in December. Our clubs have got about 10 weeks with the kids where the purpose of the breakfast clubs is to teach young people about racism, how to challenge it in a safe space surrounded by like minded peers.
So all the kids that are signing up to the Breakfast Club all care about racism, and all care about combating it. So they can share ideas in a safe space, that perhaps in a school it would be different. The clubs don’t just cover personal racism, they also look at deep institutional racism, and internal racism that is often carried around by young people of color. This can show up as negative self talk or self destructive behavior. So the clubs give the students an understanding of the societal problems that we have in this country. The clubs also work on self confidence and leadership skills to empower the young people and children to take action where they can.
The breakfast clubs next session was in October where the clubs work with young people from around like 10 to 14, but they are also quite flexible and ages.
Dr Tim has been very busy promoting equality through the power of psychiatry and I felt it important to invite him to engage with BAME carers and even NHS staff.
Dr Tim felt it was a pleasure and a surprise for Matthew to connect. Dr Tim spoke about the piece he wrote for Black History Month in 2019. He is a psychiatrist by background of British born, But his heritage is in southwestern Nigeria and as part of the Royal college of Psychiarists celebration of Black History Month, which became something only a few years ago, he was invited to write a blog. Dr Tim is an associate Registrar for policy support the college. That means the things around the Royal College of Psychiatry led to reports and statements that they make, in addition to supporting people with mental illness, their families, and communities. This includes Improving the mental wellness of society in private colleges, professional body for all qualified psychologists.
Dr Tim felt what was the important facets for Black History Month is a special where we come to terms with the fact of needing to understand history from the perspective of recent events. This has happened after his blog has shown that reflection point where it’s absolutely necessary, where people of color and their white allies think about history from a different perspective, because for too long, it’s been written from the perspective of one vantage point, that vantage point unfortunately positions, people of color, black folk, particularly at a disadvantage in producing narratives that arent helpful, realistic, and are incomplete. So what he thought Black History Month now takes upon an additional layer of importance, because first of all, it is about a celebration, about the fact that across the world cultures, black people have come together even in the face of suffering, can celebrate on resilience and psychological robustness that is happening through the facets of our history, and throughout our communities. Dr Tim felt we can find people, individuals and communities doing great things where it reminds us that we have a history of a human or a connected global trajectories of history that we assume we have music culture, we have literature is important for all of us as human beings to function make no apologies for our issues about how do we use structural position to address questions of inequity and problems inclusivity in society. Dr Tim feels as carers we can speak to a very important aspect of the black community in terms of inadequacy of access narrative support.
Dr Tim also thinks having four electives is important to come together to illustrate actually, every month, although Black History Month appears once a year. it’s important for people to focus on sharing stories, not as a disadvantage, but through the use of positivity. Dr Tim mentioned where his blog gave a historical link between psychiatry in Nigeria, where the Western world in how we have trained psychiatrists who took it upon themselves to negate the negative picture over history in psychiatry, and came up with a very good book, which is called “black skin, white coats” by Matthew M. Heaton.
The book is a legend and looks at psychiatrist colonization, and the globalization of psychiatry, this led to an informed decision of him becoming a psychiatrist.
Dr Tim thinks it’s important also to recognize people like African Caribbean senior psychiatrists, who retired, but stood firm in the face of strong opposition to actually question what was happening, vision and mental services of color in this country. Dr Tim spoke more about Matthew M. Heaton on his work since the 60s and 70s, which was very important in shaping the new agenda around a shared understanding of how history is restricted, which is advantageous, specifically why he was talking about Black History Month being symbolic.
Doreen McKenzie poet and author on Black History Month poem.
I invited my aunt Doreen to read a poem for my carer group. She had two poems that she wanted to read to us. Doreen read the shorter one first. The poem was called “Proud to be black”
This woman is so darn proud to be back. Despite the fact that she’s very aware that her color is constantly under attack. Black is the color achievers with pride. Nothing will ever entice her, her beautiful black skin to hide.
She was born black, and will die the same color. And she knows many people whose thoughts are similar. She hears people talk about the blonde bombshell. But she repairs the curvaceous black hair.
Black skin really wrinkles with age. Therefore, the age of a black person can hardly be gauged. It is a mystery how many elderly people look so good, despite the fact that they are plagued with a magnitude of challenging evidences.
And when it comes to her hair, please don’t even bother to go there. It is so unique and versatile. That in just one day, it can be crafted into a variety of magnificent styles.
The Bible says that man is made from clay. So claiming to be made in God’s own image is nothing outrageous to say. Claim your blackness with gladness and pride. Because the beauty of blackness, one must never tried to hide.
You can check out Doreen’s book “The Purpose of My Life: Now, Then, and in the Future”
Emilie Wildeman presents on her Research project
Last to present was Emilie on her research project. She usually attends my groups a couple of times over the past year. She was here today to push for recruitment and to raise a bit of awareness about her study that she is conducting as part of her PhD project. Emilie is a PhD student at King’s College London. Her research is all about informal family carers for people living with severe mental illness. Emilie gave us a bit of background to the study, in many health conditions, including mental health, we know that people living with these conditions will often live with or be supported by a close family member or friend, who mental health services refer to as informal or unpaid carers.
Emilie continued to mentioend that they also know that in some relationships, there can be difficult periods that might include sort of episodes of disagreement, and in some cases, can include active aggressive behavior from one person towards another. Her research is focused on carers of relatives living with severe mental health conditions and for her study, she is looking to speak with family carers who have experienced any type of aggressive behavior from the relative that they care for. So that could include sort of episodes of verbal disagreement and verbal conflict, conflict, verbal aggression, emotional and psychological. It could be physical, it could be some sort of destruction to a property. It’s very broad. She knows that this can be a very sensitive topic, and that there can be a lot of stigma around mental illness as well as aggressive behavior. So she really want to emphasize that this project is not about passing any judgment or making any assumptions about relationships. she is just interested in exploring carers lived experiences.
Emilie hopes that through doing this research, they can help to reduce that stigma. Participation is on carers completing an interview with herself. This is around giving carers the opportunity to voice their experiences and their opinions about what impact these experiences can have on themselves personally, on their relationship with the relative to their care and also for the family.
She is also really interested to learn about “What support families and carers have received in relation to dealing with experiences of aggression”. So that could be from personal support networks, but also professional services because she wants to identify what aspects have been helpful, but also maybe where support might be lacking.
This concludes my brief update of a special Black History Month special for October 2021.
Welcome to a brief update of my BAME carers forum for June. The BAME carers forum is an online forum aimed at those who care for someone suffering mental illness, except the forum covers ethnic experiences regarding caring along with discussions on how serious mental illness affects minorities and diverse communities.
Welcome to June 2021 Joint Southwark & Lambeth mental health carer forum update. Below is a list of speakers for the carer forum.
Faith Smith – Unpaid carer on her 136 project
David Meyrick – Southwark inpatient carer lead updates on carer support.
Alice glover – SL&M Patient & carers involvement
Emily Holzhausen – Director of Policy and Public Affairs for Carers UK
Elinor Bradley – on gathering carer experiences for Royal College of Psychiatrist
Just a quick note that the Southwark & Lambeth carer’s forum runs once a month and seeks to help empower families and carers who are caring for someone suffering mental ill health. The idea is for families and carers to know what is going on and also to hold to account, while getting educated about unpaid carers, health and social care.
Faith Smith presentS ON 136 PROJECT
Faith who is one of the carers involved at SL&M (South London & Maudsley) involvement register, basically involvement scheme for patients and carers. Faith is also a member of several of my carer groups. Faith mentioned she is a carer advocate and is working on a new project that she would like to introduce to us this afternoon. The project is around the section 136 of the Mental Health Act. Section 136 of the Mental Health Act is actually a section that gives the police the power to remove a person from a public place when they appear to be suffering from a mental disorder to a place of safety.
The place of safety could be to a hospital or to police station. We all know that those those kinds of interactions do not always go well and the outcomes are not always what we would like. So she has been asked to set up and share what is going to be called a Pan London, section 136 carers board. The aim of the group is to establish a solution which a focus group of experts by experience, which would be a group of carers and service users experts by experience.
The idea is that the group focuses on coproduction, a safe environment, holistic approach, which would then in turn lead to better outcomes.
David Meyrick SL&M Southwark Inpatient carers lead.
Next to speak was David Meyrick who works hard to promote carer inclusion on inpatient wards. David wanted to speak about the carer champion roles and how that works on SL&M inpatient settings.
So across the trust, every team should have carer champion either either one or two, on the wards, and so that we have two champions for each team. The idea is that the kind of champion will lead on the work that team does for me and carers, but not in a way that they get left with all the work for carer support within that team.
What we want to do is encourage staff to create an environment where the whole team has carers on a focus for evidence business the same way that we approach safeguarding, for instance, safeguarding is ever in business.
What you want to do as carer champion is to be more trained, be more aware and have more case knowledge and skills around carers, but use that to support their colleagues so that we get a consistent level of support for carers. So currently we have two carer champions, each team has currently, in the inpatient setting, that can be a little bit of a challenge, because it’s a high turnover staff. David has been busy with carer welcome packs to give to families and carers on the wards and continuing with his carer support groups.
Alice Glover SL&M public and patient involvement
Alice wanted to talk a little bit about involvement. She wanted to be a little flexible on the issue of involvement because she not sure what members wanted to know regarding involvement and co-production. Alice was happy for anyone to put in questions in the Zoom chat or even interrupt her presentation. Alice gave a quick overview of the involvement side of things. Alice covers Lambeth and Southwark, but for Croydon and Lewisham that is covered by Jane Lyons and other boroughs and directorates. Alice feels the whole thing about involvement is about how we’re improving and developing our mental health services, and how we’re improving people’s experience by people who use our services and people who care for them. The important thing is that as a mental health trust, we are listening to people’s experiences and those experiences are influencing changes within those services.
So there’s lots of ways that people are involved in terms of sharing their experiences from filling in satisfaction questionnaires, with specific questionnaires for carers. She knows David has done some really good work to encourage carers to fill in satisfaction questionnaires on the wards so that we can start to understand how carers are experiencing our services. Where it is not just about how their loved ones are experiencing things, but actually how carers also experience services.
As a mental health trust we look at complaints, and look at incidents and even compliments. So there are many ways of how we try and understand how carers are experiencing SL&M services, but also on behalf of their loved ones. Alice continued to explain other forms of involvement including the involvement register, which is basically a list of people who have been through a process and it is for people with lived experience of using our services, or as a family member or carer.
She is aware that there is at least 5 people at the forum who are on SL&M’s involvement, which they may want to say something about their experiences of being on the involvement register. Alice just wanted to say, they are always encouraging more carers to join our involved register, at the same time recognizing the limitations that people have on their time and totally understand that people don’t always have the availability just because of the other things going on in their life. Not least of which may be caring for their loved one.
The involvement register can be a flexible way of getting involved and being paid for your time. It means that you can you have opportunities to get involved in projects, sharing experiences as a carer in a way to try and influence change in terms of how services are developed.
Emily Holzhausen from Carers UK presents
Emily from Carers UK was delighted to be at such a carer-led forum and wanted to mention how she met Matthew quite a few years ago and I was so impressed with how he spoke about carer involvement at mental health trusts. She also wanted to mention how impressed she is with Matthew as he advocates for carers in regards to national work, because he really draws on the experience of working with unpaid carers and their stories. Emily enjoyed the discussions regarding mental health services and how unpaid carers experience involvement.
Emily has been around for many years campaigning on the unpaid carers movement, but she does wonder whether with some of the engagement and involvement is very well aware around the benefits issues with those payments. Emily wondered if it’s possible to be flexible around some of the expenses, for instance maybe paying for WiFi or data or something like that to help carers engage in a different way. If they can’t take the payment because of benefits.
Emily continued to speak about Carers Week 2021 and talked about why they campaign for Carers Week? They do it because caring is so often invisible, because it can quite often a private matter. The problem can also be a double edged sword because while its private, it can also mean carers can suffer in silence and isolation. So this year, it allows us to talk to anybody we want to really about caring, whether that’s the general public, families of friends, whether it’s employers, services and so on. So this year 2021, Carer’s UK chose the theme “visible and valued”, because last year, we said making caring visible, and carers told us we want a bit more than that. So such a theme added in.
Carer’s UK used their words and added invisible and valued this year. It has been really interesting as We’ve had a lot of engagement. Carer’s UK has done more events with employers than ever. Such events with employers and many more, but another thing is Carer’s UK had last year was tough for people because many are still getting to grips with the pandemic. So this year, there has been an increase in online activities with less being face to face.
Emily spoke about numerous wellbeing activities, which have been focused on carers, these were in terms of the politicians, where they had 66 MPs pledge support for carers week. Plus a number of MPs came to hear carer stories at one of Carers UK focus event.
Elinor Bradley on Royal College of psychiatrist project
Elinor attended the carers forum to speak on her latest project, she also works for Kent & Medway NHS trust, but she is representing the faculty of rehabilitation for the Royal College of psychiatrist. Elinor wanted to speak about a national issue, where she suppose it was similar to what Emily was talking about bringing the voice of carers forward. As of this moment the Royal college is sort of trying to represent the voices of carers and service users of rehabilitation services. She was sure many of those attending would know about mental health rehabilitation, but it’s really the branch of mental health services for people with complex mental health difficulties quite often psychosis. For those patients with psychosis, they have got some residual impairments, that really limit their ability to function independently. So quite often they unfortunately have had lots of repeated admissions, lots of crisis admissions, or lengthy admissions.
The royal college of psychiatrists have campaigned quite hard for the voices of people who have got complex mental health difficulties. This has sort of resulted in a new NICE guidelines, which are very sort of focused on reducing out of area care, and being focused on Person Centered Care, and also the involvement of carers and family as part of the support system.
So the RCPSYCH has done some really good work in the college, but what they are aware that they don’t really have the voices of carers or those other service users with lived experience represented on the website. So they currently engaged in a project and to collate some narratives or some stories of service users, for carers with lived experience of complex mental health.
The aim is to give those a platform nationally, so that would be on the Royal College of psychiatry website. Plus also to use experiences to work towards future campaigns and guidelines that we should be working towards. This is so that the royal college is looking for the good and the bad of supporting someone with complex mental health difficulties. This can also extend to the good and the bad of rehab services or even 136 assessments and inpatient wards as she mentioned on what David was talking about earlier on.
The aim is to raise the voices of the whole journey of supporting someone with complex mental health difficulties, so the college is looking for accounts, narratives of a range of people nationally.
This concludes June’s joint Southwark & Lambeth Mental Health carers forum.
Please check out our next set of carer group dates.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists are collecting stories from people with lived experience of long term mental health conditions. These stories will support the work of the Royal College of Psychiatrist’s Faculty of Rehabilitation & Social Psychiatry. The Faculty is made up of psychiatrists, service users and carer representatives with experience of psychiatric rehabilitation services. The Royal College of Psychiatrist want to understand and represent such experiences.
You can download the Lived experienced submission form in the link below.
Welcome to the April update of the Lewisham BAME Mental Health Carers forum. This is one of the four forums that I chair in South London. Out of the four forums, this group focuses on BAME carer developments in Health and social care. The group has been going since 3 years or so. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, I am running all forums via my own ZOOM account.
The invited speakers for April was Shilpa Ross who is a senior researcher at the Kings Fund policy team that works on a range of health and social care research programmes. Shilpa was invited to the forum to speak about her latest research that not enough progress has been made to address discrimination against black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff in the NHS.
Its been a while since I have made another video. This one is back on the psychiatry field. In this video I have introduced a list of notable figures who have made an impact on sub fields of psychiatry.
I have made a video which can be viewed below showing the top 70 contributors to different fields within psychiatry. It was not possible for me to include anymore due to time and length of the video.
The video includes names such as :-
Carl Gustav Jung
Welcome back. I have always mentioned to fellow unpaid carers who care for someone using mental health services to have an interest in psychology. In order to help develop an interest I have spent some months producing the video below.
This video lists and describes over 100 different forms of psychotherapies. Most mental health carers actually may have come into contact with at least 3 or 4 types of therapy. One being CBT, the other could be family counselling sessions and the most common would be group therapy, especially if attending a carer’s group. It is important carers have access to a therapeutic setting and are not treated as information retainers.
Carers often have to go through difficult and trumatic incidents and giving a carer a leaflet and telling them to get on with it is a lazy way of doing psychotherapy. Anyway, I am getting off my soap box and hope the video helps raise some interest of the vast world of psychology.
The video covers many therapies from Interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT), Drama therapy and Art therapy all the way to CBT and DBT. I would have continued on with the video and done a list of 200 psychotheraphies, but this has taken a lot of time and I felt I should just get on and release the video already.