Consultations, Surveys, ‘Have Your Say’ – Why?

March 22, 2019 at 4:51 pm

[This blog post has been written by a member of BIMHN]

Members of BIMHN receive an e-newsletter each month. I have noticed that in recent mailouts, there has been an increase in details of ongoing consultations that are related in some way to mental health; be it to local services or wellbeing in general. These have included surveys seeking views on maternal mental health, feedback on the Young People’s strategy for the local council, and details about experiences of local community mental health rehabilitation services.

I had a think about whether filling in these surveys would make any difference to anything in the long run. What are the data from some tickboxes and ‘comment’ boxes really going to change? What’s the point if they don’t make a difference?

It then hit me that of course – everyone is different. These surveys and consultations are not just about me and my experiences – they are about the combined views and experiences of people in the local area, and how the combination of these perspectives can give a different insight into people’s needs.

Mental health is a broad church – everyone’s experience of mental health is different. Everyone has different backgrounds, symptoms, coping strategies, experiences of different treatments…this list could goes on. Even if someone does not experience mental ill-health themselves, they may know someone who does, or have otherwise come into contact with mental health disorders during their lives.

If a mental health service is being introduced or re-designed, the people and teams leading these projects need to be made aware of the populations different perspectives, views, and experiences. Everyone is different, and there are so many variables that make up an individual’s personal view that their contribution may include an experience or some other information that may not have been previously considered by those running the consultation.

[Editorial note: one of the consultations mentioned above is the BNSSG Rehabilitation Services Review, that BIMHN is currently helping arrange. You can fill out the relevant survey here)]

 

March 22, 2019 at 4:51 pm | Blog

The Women’s Mental Health Taskforce – Final Report – Outlining the Partners

March 4, 2019 at 12:35 pm

[Late last year, The Women’s Mental Health Taskforce published their final report. One of our volunteers has written a review of the report, considering the parties involved, their commitments, and how this feeds into the aims of the Taskforce.]

This article focuses on the specific roles taken on by key organisations in the UK’s healthcare system to achieve the Taskforce’s goal however, the full report can be accessed here.

It has been brought to light from much research that significantly more women experience mental conditions compared to men. McManus and colleagues (2016) found that specifically young women are almost three times more likely to have a common mental disorder compared to young men. This is because poverty and abuse are related many negative outcomes which includes, but is not limited to, suicide. Compared to men (27%), a staggering number of women who have or are experiencing abuse are also in poverty (51%).

In response to this, the government set up the Women’s Mental Health Taskforce; co-chaired by Jackie Doyle-Price (Minister for Suicide Prevention and Mental Health) and Katharine Sacks-Jones, Chief Executive of Agenda; with the responsibility to improve mental health services for women based on the lived experience of women themselves. That last part is important, as pointed out by Dr Karen Newbigging (Senior Lecturer at the University of Birmingham); “This reflects the social realities of their lives: women are much more likely than men to be survivors of abuse and domestic violence, to be single parents and to live on a lower income. Traditionally mental health services have overlooked this.”

As mentioned by co-chair, Jackie Doyle-Price, “Mental health is a top priority for this Government and will be a key part of the upcoming Long-Term Plan for the NHS”; all eyes are on National Health Service England (NHSE) to make impactful changes that can help women achieve better mental health services. NHSE’s commitments include implementing a financial incentive for trauma related care, developing a toolkit for system leaders with regards to individuals facing health inequalities, and considering to broaden NHSE’s annual conference to focus on the whole care pathway. Furthermore, NHSE aims to provide access to specialist perinatal mental health services for all new and expectant mothers by April 2019.

Another national body involved is the Public Health England (PHE), which is in charge of gathering public health specialists to improve health and wellbeing. They are committed to expanding work on perinatal mental health; guiding the NHS in promoting the Taskforce’s messages; focusing more on gender- and trauma-informed approaches; raising awareness on domestic abuse; and focusing on additional funds towards women’s mental health.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC), independent regulator of all health and social care services in England, has specifically worked towards eliminating mixed-sex accommodation on mental health wards. Through their Long-Term Segregation project and Mental Health Safety Improvement Programme (the latter of which is a collaboration with NHS Improvement), the CQC aims to objectively achieve the goals set by the Taskforce. NHS Improvement is also, among many other things, working towards aligning their sexual safety work with the Taskforce’s objectives.

The role of Higher Education England is crucial as one of their tasks is to disseminate the outcomes of the Taskforce to employers and education institutions, as well as to review the inclusion of trauma-informed care in curricula with Higher Education Institutes.

The Prison and Probation Service is working with the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Health and Social Care to establish comprehensive care that improves health outcomes and reduces health inequalities amongst prisoners. Among many other efforts, this partnership is working to enhance ‘women’s pathways’ across all services through actions like appointing women to lead work. Other than that, a new service model is being developed to allow mentally affected offenders to receive mental health treatment as an alternative to custody. Furthermore, the women offender personality disorder pathway aims to improve women’s public protection and mental wellbeing while addressing their offending behaviour. These efforts will hopefully develop psychologically-informed, gender-informed and trauma-informed interventions.

Bristol as a city can also be seen putting efforts into women’s mental health. Bristol City Council is a partner along with thirteen other organisations in a partnership called Healthier Together, that represents the local Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP). Two of Healthier Together’s priorities are maternity and mental health.

It is evident that many organisations are taking steps forward in paving a safer and mental health friendly world for women in the UK. Authorities should take this as motivation to execute their roles as promised as well as introducing more effective efforts instead of becoming complacent by merely acknowledging all their accomplishments so far.

March 4, 2019 at 12:35 pm | Blog

The Bristol Time to Change hub at UWE – Time to Talk Day 2019!

February 20, 2019 at 1:24 pm

[This blog was written by a BIMHN member, sharing their thoughts on a stall they ran on Time to Talk Day 2019]

I was delighted to be asked to represent the Time to Change Bristol hub at the University of the West of England’s (UWE) Frenchay Campus on Time to Talk Day this year.

Time to Talk Day is the big day in the calendar for Time to Change; a national organisation that leads the way on tackling stigma in mental health. Time to Talk Day takes place annually, and is a day centred around having a conversation with someone. The thinking is that if more people are open about mental health, and issues surrounding it, we can collectively change the way that we all think and act about mental health.

The Time to Change hub were invited to have a stand at UWE’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Fair, which took place in their Students’ Union building. The fair was busy and saw a lot of footfall; not just students, but university staff as well.

Our stand had all sorts of bits and pieces for visitors to take a look at and take away. The Time to Change conversation starter kits were especially popular!

 

Lots of people came by to have a conversation. Some knew about Time to Change already, and some had no idea. Some people had lived experience of mental health, whether it was their own, or someone else’s that they knew. Regardless of a person’s experience, it was heartening to hear from those who had received a positive response when they had opened up to others about their own mental health.

Some visitors to the stall wanted to know more. I was happy to share that we had completed some recent training on how to equip people on how to effectively tackle mental health stigma. I was also happy to share the successes of the Champions Fund, and how we can support anyone looking to put on their own mental health social contact event.

It’s clear there’s still a lot of work to do to make sure that the stigma around mental health, in all its variants, is being tackled in a positive way. It is however positive to hear so many people speaking so openly about their own experience, and that the response they have received is no longer as negative as it might have been in years gone by.

February 20, 2019 at 1:24 pm | Blog