Hello again and welcome to another blog post on a carer’s perspective on mental health and wellbeing. Talking about those two last points, there was a mental health and wellbeing day on the 20th of November over at the Catford Civic Suite in Lewisham.
The Lewisham Mental Health and Wellbeing Day is presented by the NHS Lewisham CCG, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust and Lewisham Council.
I just had to attend the mental health and wellbeing event, this is because I am a carer of a close relative suffering mental ill health. Last year I was lucky enough to chair the 2013 event and perhaps I ll place the video of that event later on in this blog post, but what was in store for us this year?
Well this year the MH and Wellbeing stakehold event wanted to concentrate on the service user/survivor aspect. So we had Carmine De Rosa chair the event. Next was a Mental Health commissioning update for 2014 and this was presented by Pamela Martin, GP Mental Health Lead for Lewisham CCG.
After Pamela’s talk came the presentation from Sarah Yiannoullou who is the Managing Director from NSUN (National Service User Network). Her talk was on inclusion, involvement and influence of those using the services and the NSUN 4PI standards.
Then last to speak was John Ryan talking about an alternative view of the Mental Health system, John is a comedian and his talk certainly lightened up the mood since we all know Mental Health can be a difficult subject to discuss.
Still, the event was not just about talks, throughout the day from 10.00 am till 4:00 pm the event numerous workshops, stalls, wellbeing activities, refreshments and a chance to network and most importantly gain information to aid in recovery or getting support in caring. I also noticed some members of the public attended to try find out what mental health is all about.
Unfortunately I cannot go into so much detail about the event this time, but why is this? Well for one I was recovering from a horrible cold, so I could not gain access to the talks or workshops because I kept coughing and sneezing. Secondly I do not want to repeat what is found in booklets about the event, I perfer this blog post to be about how I experienced the event and what I got up to most of the day.
Well on that sunny morning as I entered the Civic Suite, I was greeted by friendly staff who signed me in and handed out the agenda and activity information for the day. I then explored around the building and watched the impressive presentation slide of the wellbeing event.
Unfortunately my cold was getting the better of me so I had to sit down and gobble up some oranges kindly left for visitors to take. I was then greeted by Gráinne from Lewisham CCG and a few others who were glad I attended the event.
Eventually the public were called into the main chamber to hear the talks and I also went in for around about…..5 minutes before I started coughing and wheezing again. I just managed to get some of the talk where they presented on improving recovery and challenging mental health labels in order to reduce stigma.
Soon I had to head back out to the waiting area and check to see if I could go back in the conference chamber, but it was no good so instead I took a trip to Civic Suite’s Lower floor. There were a vast array of stalls and I could not visit them all, but I ll explain what stalls took most of my attention.
The first stall that took my attention was SLaM Stall or the South London and Maudsley Stall. I could see many booklets and information about the mental health trust and also more information on how to become a member of the trust. I also picked up a flicked through SLaM’s latest newsletter about the Happy Heads event, which is an event aimed at teenagers to promote mental health and wellbeing. I think I did a blog post about that event.
After a while I tried again to enter the conference chamber and just caught a bit of the talk by NSUN on the 4PI standards, but what is NSUN all about? NSUN stands for National Survivor User Network and is a network for mental health in England. NSUN gives and promotes a powerful voice for those using the services and their carers, but they also do a lot more.
The talk was about how their work has led to the development of the 4PI framework for involvement: a simple, yet robust framework around which to base standards for good practice, and to measure, monitor and evaluate involvement.
Involvement of those using the mental health services is critical not only in aiding in recovery, but reducing the isolation felt by those using the services. At the core of mental health services should be the service user perspective. Such implementations are of course not an easy thing to archieve, but must always be one of the aims of any mental health service provider.
Again my cold played up on me and I found myself beating a hasty retreat back to the lower floor again to view some more stalls. The next stall was impressive and this was the lewisham healthwatch stall. Healthwatch is an independent consumer champion that gathers and represents the public’s views on health and social care services locally or nationally. The most interesting document I picked up from this stall is their report on one of SLaM’s units, which I flicked through. What came to mind when I went through the report was transparency and cooperation with other independent organisations.
The next stall I visited was the Samaritans stall, I have spoken to the Samaritans several times on many events. Basically the Samaritan’s are a registered charity aimed at providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress. I spent quite a long time on this stall swapping ideas and networks, because one of their staff is a member of the Lewisham mental health connection, which I am also a member.
The next stall was on IAPTs (Improving Access to Psychological Therapies
), which offers a range of psychological therapies to adults 18 years and over. I glanced over a few of their leaflets to take home and read, plus I have been on many IAPTs courses in the past.
Eventually I wandered over to chat to a the SLaM’s carers support officer who I have known for many years, she was busy minding the SLaM’s Family & Carers information stall and I could see the purple family and carer booklet which I was lucky enough to contribute to. The Mental Health Trust aims to support carers as much as they can and this stall shows they are working hard to help carers of those using the services.
After visiting the SLaM Family & Carers support stall, I moved on to the Carer’s Lewisham Stall and spoke to Jey and her new volunteer who specilises in dementia support. I picked up one of their leaflets, which was very colourful and flicked through it. As a carer, I have been using Lewisham Carers a long time.
Then next stall was on “Community Connections”. Community Connections is a development and access-facilitation project with a preventative health and wellbeing focus. I picked up one of their leaflets which was on a wellbeing story, just on the focus for the day. Soon I moved on to another impressive stall which is the SmokeFree campiagn for lewisham.
I eventually I ended up at the MyHealthLocker stall. This stall is about self empowerment using technology to monitor your own health and allow doctors and even carers to aid in your care. myhealthlocker allows you to have control over your health information. Service users can access their care plan from the South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, keep track of how they are feeling, access resources and tips on staying well and manage their health and wellbeing. I was given a free T-shirt for attending the stall.
The next stall I spent talking to the staff for a while in order to catch up with them. This stall is about the Lewisham Mental Health Connection are group of people working in the voluntary sector who are committed to improving mental health in Lewisham.
After a few more visits to some stalls, I ended up back in the upper floor to have some nice carribean lunch and continued to network with many others.
Unfortunately I missed out on the workshops and more talks, but I guess its impossible to be everywhere and considering I had a cold, I really enjoyed the day. I can’t wait for next years event.