Here are two more poems from my upcoming book “The Poetry book of mental health caring”.
The first poem focuses on wellbeing for carers who are caring for someone suffering mental illness. To be fair it does not actually have to be mental illness, but the main point is the person is thrown into becoming a carer.
The next poem is more psychological. The poem called “The Mirror” asks the carer to reflection on their identity, especially when the carer is judgemental about themselves. I certainly was very judgemental about trying to provide unpaid care and at times I still am critical.
Welcome back to another blog by former mental health carer Matthew McKenzie. I have an exciting project which black families could be interested in.
Black Families Involvement in New E-learning (Be FINE), is a new study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, as part of UK Research and Innovation’s rapid response to COVID-19 and is led by Dr Valentina Cardi and Dr Juliana Onwumere at King’s College London.
The study has two aims. Firstly, to understand the experiences and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the carers of children and young people (6-24 years) from Black minority ethnic communities in the UK. The second aim is to explore with carers of children and young people from Black minority ethnic communities, the type of information they would find helpful to include in an online course that aims to offer carers skills to support children and young people with their mental health and wellbeing. The Be FINE study will employ a mixed methods design, using both online surveys and individual and group-based interviews.
The study has two parts; an online survey and focus groups. To participate, individuals have to be parents or carer of a young person from a Black racial minority and the child has to be aged between 6 – 24 years. We then ask that the participant fills out the online survey, this should take around half an hour. The participant will receive £15 amazon voucher for participating. Following this, the participant will have the chance to also sign up to the focus groups. These will last around an hour and the participant will receive a further £15 amazon voucher for this.
Black communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. We hope the study findings will aid the development of a more in-depth understanding of the experiences of Black minority families during the pandemic, and of what type of help, delivered online, might be perceived as beneficial in empowering carers to support the psychological wellbeing of children and young adults.
Below is the Link to the survey people can take part in.
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 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.
Hello again. Hope that after reading this blog, you have time to check out my site. I do more than just the awareness series on mental illness. I also do a series of lecture reviews, mainly on psychology, psychiatry, sociology and ethics. Why on earth should a carer spend time on humanities and psychology? Well for a start it is interesting and fairly related in the mental health area.Hello again. Hope that after reading this blog, you have time to check out my site. I do more than just the awareness series on mental illness. I also do a series of lecture reviews, mainly on psychology, psychiatry, sociology and ethics. Why on earth should a carer spend time on humanities and psychology? Well for a start it is interesting and fairly related in the mental health area.
This particular review looks at one of the psychological greats lecture on his course “consciousness and its implications”. The lecturer is Daniel N Robinson who is a philosopher who is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at Georgetown University and a Fellow of the Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University.
Unfortunately the course can be a little challenging to get into at first, but there is nothing wrong with replaying the lecture in order to get to grips with the subject material. The course has 12 lectures and as you can tell Prof Daniel spends time examining the mystery of what is consciousness.
As a carer, all the years I have been trying to support someone close to me struggling through mental illness, I found myself asking deep and profound questions. The most common question i would ask myself is “Where is the person that I used to know?”. How far has this mental illness taken from the person I used to know.
As of this blog post, the lecture I will focus on is lecture 12 titled “Consciousness and the end of mental life”. I did have some reservations playing the final lecture, because as you may have guessed there is this overwhelming fear of deep dark questions probing me on the challenges I will have to face.
The lecture begins off looking as several startling cases of patients trapped years in a coma only to slowly come out of a coma from severe brain trauma. One incredible story was of Terry Wallis – The man who slept for 19 years. Terry Wallis emerged from a 19 year coma and regained the power of speech.
Medical professionals were astounded and started to examine the changes in his brain, it had always been the case that neurons were non-regenerative, but in the Wallis case there seemed to be strange activity in his neurons. How!?!?
Prof Daniel starts to talk about the Coma Recovery Association and how the association offered advice on how comatose patients can recover, but it is risky. Within the lecture we look at further cases where there was one woman who recovered from a coma only to complain that unconsciously she kept hearing the doctor by her bedside talking.
Another startling case was of was of Brian Kastler, neurosurgeon’s in this case were astounded at his slow, but gradual recover from devastating brain trauma. The lecture looks at many other cases and examples, but Daniel is quick to point out that these cases are not often the expect outcome.
Prof Daniel reminds us that the brain is not like skin or bones, if affected by trauma then the cells more likely will die. Still the regeneration is a lot greater in childhood, depending on the damage. However if the cerebral cortex is damaged then the greater the damage. The lecture points out that each patient case is unique and throws light into neuroscience. What was the deciding factors in each of the cases?
The lecture then moves on to the Terri Schiavo case, where a patient “Terri Schiavo” was a right-to-die legal case in the United States from 1990 to 2005, involving Theresa Marie “Terri” Schiavo, a woman in an irreversible persistent vegetative state. The lecture examines the problem of PVS (persistent vegetative state) cases and looks into cases where there has been misdiagnoses. This then shows the dilemma faced by doctors with several startling questions “When to turn off the life support system?”, “where are there signs of life?”, “What are the other possibilities?”.
Can you begin to see how the lecture is slowly moving into ethics? There is no mistake why I have added a link into ethics off my blog site because when practicing medicine, you are dealing with people’s lives and if doing that then ethics is not far away.
Prof Daniel lecture looks into more philosophical areas on American philosopher Thomas nagel’s question “what is it like to be a bat?”. Prof Daniel wants to raise the implications of consciousness. Prof Daniel also talks about Arestole’s work on the biological studies on sensation. Eventually the lecture gets into deeper questions on what is consciousness as he queries if someone dreaming is conscious regarding if they are aware of sensations. A good example is given on how we determine our own consciousness, which is down to epistemic justification (part of epistemology that attempts to understand the justification of propositions and beliefs). If no one believes that we are conscious, then we can only hope to share our experience with that person so they experience the same thing. e.g. pointing to an object in the room as validation.
The lecture then takes a greater step towards ethics and moral thought. With examining questions on.
Our duty to others, our rights to others.
They have a rights to be treated even though unwell, but how?
We have a duty not to exploit the vulnerabilities of others.
What are our duty to others whose rights cannot be protect by themselves?
Prof Daniel then throws up a dilemma not only for health professionals, but for carers or caretakers. Remember the question I asked myself at the beginning of this blog? So this is why I often say to mental health carers that they should take an interest in psychology and psychiatry. Do not be put off by its deep complex field, we all have something to contribute.
Welcome back to another one of my collaborating on raising mental health awareness. This time I am collaborating with mental health survivor Psycopathic_ sociopath. That is the name of her Youtube channel. You may wish to check out some of her stuff, although she has just begun to do more videos on mental health.
Since my link from the states has suffered through Depression and Anxiety, we decided to base our latest video on caring/supporting someone going through both mental health illnesses. She spoke about what she feels would help someone going through depression and anxiety, plus I also did the same.
If you wish to watch the video, please click on the video below.
Supporting someone with depression
On my section, I spoke in depth about supporting or caring for someone suffering through depression. Most of my tips were fairly basic and quite common. Mainly being there for someone going through such a hard time. Being there for someone can help them no matter whatever mental health problem the person is experiencing.
You may also want to ask how they are from time to time. It always helps to check as it shows you care. My link from the states mentioned that if you are going to use comforting words, then try be sincere about it. People can often tell when someone is not honest about how they care for someone.
One more tip I placed in the video was When the person talks, it is important that you listen and do this actively. Not always an easy thing to do, but it does pay off in the end.
The last section of the video covers anxiety. I hope you get time to watch the video and I hope you have enjoyed reading the blog post. See you next time and have a good healthy mental health journey.
Welcome back to another blog post by mental health carer Matthew Mckenzie. Every so often, I run through a review from a lecture course, many lectures courses I tend to go through are based on psychology, psychiatry, ethics or even philosophy. I feel it is very important those caring for loved ones suffering mental health problems at least pay some attention to such fields, even if there are things they might not understand.
Welcome to another blog post from mental health carer Matthew McKenzie. This time I thought I would blog about something most carers find useful, but is actually quite hard to provide. Before I continue, I would just like to mention that a carer is someone who cares for a person suffering ill health, but an important point is that carers are unpaid. Carers tend to fall on difficult times due to the stress placed on health services, cuts on other services, plus misunderstandings by those who have not encountered carers.