Latest update from Chief Executive Joe Rafferty

Liverpool World Mental Health Festival

Those of you who were with the Trust last year will remember that Mersey Care played an active part in Liverpool’s World Mental Health Festival, which culminates in World Mental Health Day on Monday.

We marked the event last week when we manned an exhibition van at Everton’s game against Crystal Palace at Goodison Park, when service users were invited onto the pitch at half time to recognise their achievement in winning a European social inclusion and mental health trophy. The crowd gave generous applause and their appearance on the pitch was accompanied by an announcement on the ground’s PA that recognised the role of Mersey Care with Everton in tackling mental health issues across the community.

We also celebrated World Poetry Day at the Life Rooms yesterday with a series of poetry readings that was a great success. Around 80 people attended, including local schoolchildren who did their own readings at the event.

If you’re in Liverpool tomorrow (Saturday), why not pop along to Williamson Square and support our staff who will be promoting our Big Brew campaign with tea and coffee? There is also an opportunity to get more information about our Talk Liverpool service on another stall. Elsewhere in the city, we will also have a trailer promoting our Life Rooms services parked outside St George’s Hall.

There are also events planned for Monday, with a Physical Health and Mortality Summit being held at Aintree Racecourse. We will also be actively involved in the National Mental Health Football Championships being held at the Goals Soccer Centre in Netherton. Around 20 teams from around the country – including a representative Mersey Care and Everton in the Community team – are due to attend, so it should be a great day.

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As part of the World Mental Health Festival, I did an interview with Tony Snell on BBC Radio Merseyside’s breakfast programme on Thursday. He asked about a whole range of topics, including how mental health services can cope with the demand of a city like Liverpool. We discussed our plans to build two new hospitals and those of you who wish to listen to it can do so here. The interview takes place between 27.25 and 31.22 in the programme and you have 29 days to listen to it before it disappears from the website.

Dangers of Depression

I know we have many sports fans within the organisation and so I was drawn to an article I found on the BBC website that focussed on former world champion Barry McGuigan calling for a new foundation fund to help fighters with mental health issues. His interview follows worrying statements given by Tyson Fury, the world heavyweight champion, that he has been taking cocaine to help him with depression.

The story, which you can access here, interested me because I think it would be a good way of engaging with young men. We know that depression can affect anyone but men are particularly vulnerable because we know they are less likely to talk about their problems than women.

Several other sports stars have come out and admitted their struggles with depression recently, including Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps, former footballer Paul Gascoigne and another former boxer, Ricky Hatton. This underlines something that we often stress to our service users and carers – depression is completely even-handed and can strike anyone, no matter what their situation or how successful they are in their particular field.

CQC Leadership

I’ve written before about our experience of preparing for and hosting an inspection of our services by the Care Quality Commission, which took place last year and enabled us to make the step to become a Foundation Trust. I said at the time that the experience was valuable and I was given my opportunity to explain that to the CQC leadership in Newcastle this week.

As Chief Executive of a Trust that has been through an inspection and also as someone that has chaired an inspection, it was useful to be able to pass on those experiences with a Q&A session with CQC delegates. It was a useful discussion and I think the emphasis on future inspections may well focus on how well led organisations are as they continually develop the criteria for ratings.