World Mental Health Festival
It seems timely in the week that we’ve had the Liverpool Mental Health Festival and World Mental Health Day that I should start this week’s blog by talking about stigma. Regular readers will know that this organisation battles against the stigma surrounding mental health on a daily basis, which is why we try and promote our innovation and hard work through the media and lobby MPs and parliament
I have sensed that in this week of all weeks that stigma is now starting to be challenged on a more regular basis. We are still a long way behind the focus and funding that is given to physical health and until a patient with mental health issues is given the same level of treatment as someone who, for instance, goes into hospital with chest pains, we need to keep up the pressure and keep campaigning.
As part of that, I would like to mention those staff involved with our Big Brew and Talk Liverpool stalls at Liverpool’s World Mental Health Festival in Williamson Square last Saturday. Their efforts, which included providing over 500 cups of tea and coffee, help spread the word and ensured a lot more people in Liverpool know now about the message behind the Big Brew – talk about your problems over a cuppa. Even more importantly, several people approached our stall in an anxious state and were given help and advice in the Talk Liverpool bus.
While I wasn’t able to attend on Saturday, I was delighted to meet staff, service users and partner organisations at the National Mental Health Football Championship on World Mental Health Day on Monday, hosted by Mersey Care and Everton in the Community.
Teams came from as far afield as Cumbria, North Lancashire, Yorkshire, the North East and South Wales and there was a really friendly, but nonetheless competitive, atmosphere.
Staff spoke with real passion about their involvement with our Imagine Your Goals partnership programme and how it has helped support hundreds of men. It’s helped turn their lives around, which is illustrated with people like Derek on page 30 of our latest Autumn MC Magazine.
The big success of the Imagine Your Goals football programme is that it’s not all about sport. Those involved speak about the camaraderie, peer support, social aspect and motivation that taking part brings. I met someone called Bert, who passionately spoke of his family’s pride in seeing his recovery and achievements since joining the programme.
We had six Mersey Care teams taking part and all played with enthusiasm. The day finished with one of them (pictured) as runners-up, with the winners’ trophy going to Middleborough FC Foundation for the first time. I think it’s fair to say everyone went home with a sense of fulfilment - and for me they’re all winners.
We also celebrated World Mental Health Day with Ray Walker, our Director of Nursing, hosting a Physical Health and Mortality Summit at Aintree Racecourse. This Trust has made a firm commitment that physical health care is a core component of its service delivery. Caring for mental health patients without also addressing physical health would be counter-productive and I gather the event was extremely successful with nearly 100 people attending.
It’s been quite a couple of weeks for Mersey Care with national recognition and awards being won. While none of us get up in the morning and go off to work motivated solely by getting an award to put on the window ledge, recognition is still useful because it re-affirms we are on the right track and our effort and hard work is helping to raise standards of mental health care.
I’d like to firstly offer my congratulations to the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit for achieving an impressive accreditation assessment from Headway, which is an approved provider scheme. It is driven from a service user/carer perspective and encompasses evidence based practice, sound governance and is outcome focused. They achieved an excellent rating in five out of the seven categories, so well done to the whole team.
Further congratulations are also in order for the User Led Services and Innovation in Dementia team winning the Older People’s Mental Health and Dementia Award at the Positive Practice Awards (pictured).
They were one of two awards on the night for Mersey Care with the Imagine Your Goals programme also winning the Integrating Physical and Mental Health Care award. Congratulations to both teams and everyone who has contributed.
Finally, there was also recognition from the Health Service Journal this week when I was named at No 80, up 14 places from last year, in their annual list of their top 100 most influential people in health. I don’t mention this for vanity purposes because I believe that this award is recognition for us all at Mersey Care and the outstanding work you all do on a daily basis.
Importantly, there are people in the list that represent mental health so I think that’s a sign that mental health is gradually becoming more established on the healthcare agenda. Of course, with recognition comes scrutiny and we must all be aware that as mental health becomes a more high profile topic, so our standards and practice will be examined and we must continually strive for ‘Perfect Care.’
The Trust is recruiting again for a non-executive director and anyone interested can find out more information here. The successful candidate will need strong business acumen, experience of working at regional or national level, will have strong communication skills, the ability to understand complex strategic issues and have an understanding of mental health among other skills.
It’s great to see how our new colleagues in Ambition Sefton are integrating into Mersey Care after joining us at the start of the month. There’s been good feedback from their introduction sessions, where they learned about the structure of Local Division, where services are and the Division’s transformational strategy.