Firstly, we have to say thank you so much to everyone who made it along to our Mental health hustings the other week.
Secondly, we must apologise on behalf of the Liberal Democrats who weren’t able to attend due to several glitches in communication. Please don’t read anything into their absence on the night: that was wholly accidental and inadvertent.
As a follow-up and just in time for tomorrow’s elections, a number of those attending on April 11th and several people who couldn’t make it have asked to submit mental health related questions to the panel/parties. At the time of writing we'[d received replies from Wendy taylor of the the LibDems and Andrew Gray from the Greens.
The questions are in no particular order, and following each is the reply, firstly from the LibDems, and then that of the Green party:
“Were you to be elected, what tangible measures would you take to improve mental health and wellbeing at a) a ward level and b) city-wide?”
(b) As a ‘minority’ councillor with only a small group of fellow Green councillors (or possibly a lone Green councillor), my capacity for influencing Council or NHS policy as a whole would be very limited. So I am focussing on what I could do to serve the wider mental health and wellbeing needs of all. I would be keen to work in partnership with members of other parties and the council’s mental health champion, to ensure that anything we achieve in Heaton can be applied elsewhere.
“What is your position on the ongoing saga relating to the provision of in-patient mental health beds for Newcastle?”
“There’s a tension between spending on emotional wellbeing for all, the whole populace, and yet also targeting resources at those with severe and enduring mental health difficulties.How do you manage such a tension?”
“As a former solicitor who left the profession on the cusp of burning out, I retrained as a personal trainer because exercise and nutrition was key in me managing my own high stress levels during low times. I’m now trying to pass those benefits on to others in the workplace and more generally.
Research demonstrates that exercise and nutrition have not only a preventative effect against some mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression, but also represent a cost effective or often free method of treatment of the same once diagnosed. Moreover, they can be commenced immediately, with an instant positive effect, whilst the benefits of other methods of treatment are awaited, such as pharmacological intervention or talking therapies. They are also relevant to all age groups and can be a fantastic method of combating the social isolation often encountered, such as the Pie Club Mick referred to. I’m therefore interested in the plans for provision and/or funding which each of the candidates intends to implement or maintain re sports, exercise and nutrition.”
“a) What has worked well, in relation to mental health and wellbeing for you?b) What hasn’t worked well, in relation to mental health and wellbeing for you?c) In an ideal world, what would things look like when it comes to mental health?”
b)Routine stresses have included working too long hours, working with colleagues who are unhappy or undervalued, and silly ideas from over-paid senior managers.
c)Joined up policies across multiple areas of government could do a lot to improve mental health. So ending workfare and making work pay better will bring security and encourage better mental health. The Universal Basic Income would free people from the treadmill of ‘work at any cost’, supporting a more caring society, more part-time work and genuine self-employment, and the cliff edge of means-tested benefits: all these things would lower stress levels and enable better health care and prevention all round.
Wednesday April 11th
A wee update for all who may be dismayed at a slight lack of new material on this, our Launchpad website.
We are very much still going, still very active (and still, until Summer, at Broadacre House). The best place to find updates (apart from here, when I get round to putting stuff up…) is at the website of ReCoCo, which we co-founded.
Launchpad is an integral part of ReCoCo, which has seen the voluntary sector and the NHS come together is a new way of working, with a different approach. Help, but also self-help, advice given but also sought, a collective giving and taking for mutual and maximal benefit. A transparent, mutually-assistive way of operating, open to all-comers, and every mental health group (interpreting mental health in a broad inclusive fashion, thus acknowledging cross-overs with drug and alcohol services, family services, learning disability and autism spectrum agencies) being positively welcome to use the space, its rooms and resources. The key to this all that it not only centres on user-led peer support, but also that it is “open source” or non-proprietary, working across organisations within the locality. It gives the most supportive, progressive yet flexible way for service users to utilise their lived experience for the benefits of other service users, and to empower themselves in doing so, working across different agencies and communities without barriers. This rewards and gives an entry to paid work, plus opens the door for opportunities for more such work with partner organisations and/or those in which workers may become embedded.
Basically, it’s the mortar in the mental health system, that holds separate blocks together into a coherent structure that has purpose. If someone is lucky, they may receive an hour or two of direct clinical intervention in a week, which leaves 166 or 167 hours to be filled. We allow users and interested others (carers, volunteers, family, clinicians, experts) to help fill those hours with purposeful activity and self-development, creating the necessary conditions for that small segment of clinical time (delivered elsewhere) to have the most beneficial effects.
The gap between political platitudes about mental health and the realities lived by those with mental health difficulties has never been larger. So, why ReCoCo? Because of our collective track records of compassionate and informed mental health expertise, of involvement and activism with integrity, of organisations run and led by people with lived experience of mental distress and the knowledge of what it’s like to be on the receiving end. ReCoCo speaks truth to power without being seduced by it, always staying true to the insight of the lived experience and the grassroots. We are composed and credible but not compromised, with a solidity of purpose and a level of competence that means we can’t be blithely dismissed. Our mission and passion is to capture, convey and catalyse the lived experience: the good and the bad, the tragic and the comic, the browbeaten and the bolshie; to reflect mental health service users in all our glory and all our misery. Not merely to ensure that we are heard, but that we are respected and able to shape our own futures and services.
And here’s the current prospectus, if you can’t get to the ReCoCo website and access it there: Recoco5-web (super compressed)
Dear all, you may have been under impression that things have gone very quiet on the Canny City front, and that wouldn’t be wholly inaccurate.
[This is the value statement:
• Emotional health, well-being and living without fear, distress and anxiety are fundamental. And a right we all have.
• The greatest asset a city has is its people: we want residents and visitors to Newcastle and Gateshead to feel accepted, understood and supported, enabling them to feel physically and emotionally safe, but with support and help close to hand.]
The third in the groovy new style of prospectus is out!
Like, now, daddy-o.
And it’s a corker, bumper edition with more things inside it than can be counted, full of passion, heart, hard truths and wonderful activities. Plus an annual report, that may just be unlike other annual reports.
ReCoCo-3-WEB <<<< Click here to download