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Botanic gardens - tree canopy



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Big Dreams, Small Steps

How do people with mental health problems get support that works for them and helps them achieve what they want in their lives?

Personalisation and Self-directed support are getting talked about more for people with mental health problems.

Personalisation is about delivering the care, however that is organised and chosen.  This is what should be happening now.

Self-directed support – SDS – is the range of ways for someone to organise and choose the care they get.  It includes the financial aspect, as a means to creating choices and accountability.

The Social Care (Self-Directed Support) (Scotland) Act was passed by the Scottish Parliament at the end of 2012 and we are now hearing about the implementation plans.  This will give many more people in every local authority area a right to have more choice and more control over how their support gets organised.  Some people with mental health problems are feeling positive and excited about the opportunities this will bring.  Others are apprehensive in case it makes life more complicated or they end up losing the support they have now.

Similar arrangements have been in place in England for a few years.  The details are different, but it is close enough to give an idea of what impact it could make here.

A few of us went to a conference in London this week on Personalisation to find out more.

Big Dreams and small steps was how the fabulous Rachel Perkins summed it up at the start of the closing session.

These are some of things we heard about during the day.

  • Personalised support and personal budgets are working well for many people with mental health problems.  People like them.
  • People with mental health problems have the biggest positive impact from personal budgets but are less likely than other people to get access to them.
  • The barriers are mostly about staff in service being worried about risks   and complicated systems than the actual experience.
  • There are examples of places where it is working well, including high participation by people with lived experience in shaping the new arrangements – and by both people who describe themselves as service-users and by service-avoiders.

Rachel Perkins talked about the links between Personalisation and Recovery – both led by people with lived experience, both needing a change in approach and culture of mental health services, and both making a real difference to people’s lives.

We’ll keep in touch with what is happening in Scotland and in the rest of the UK.

What is your experience and views on how these approaches can work for people who live with mental health problems?

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I’ve been asked to write a play for a women’s conference whose proceeds will go to a campaign against human trafficking, and it has to be around the theme of worth. For about four months I’ve been reading and researching. But now the time has come to stop digging the foundations and start building – now the time has come to just write.

If this had been the only thing I had to do these past four months, the job might be done by now. But it hasn’t been. I was in the midst of writing another short play – “Man Points” – when the committee of the conference commissioned this one. “Man Points” then needed to be cast, directed, and toured. Now that that tour is over – for now – I can turn my full attention to the reams of notes, thoughts and ideas that have been creeping up on me at ridiculous times during the night!!

It’s an exciting thing, writing something and then casting it; giving actors roles to play – giving characters from your mind a voice. The next step in this process is workshopping some of the unwritten script with actors which should go a long way to helping the piece take shape. At the moment, it’s still soft clay in my hands, and for now we’ll continue playing with it.

A very wise lady once told me “It’s not called a ‘play’ for nothing.” There is so much to be said for the element of play in theatre. You’ve got a whole world of possibilities, from the subject to the style to the staging. Then there’s your audience – no two nights are the same. I’ve encountered a very new experience with this commission, having been added to a Facebook group for the event which lists the members of my audience. I won’t be communicating with them through social networking on this occasion, the message I have for them hasn’t been written yet, and will be played by actors I haven’t yet met.

Story by Community Reporter

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Summer time, tennis and wellbeing

SUMMER time is upon us and its time to serve your way into boosting your mental wellbeing.  As soon as the sun starts to shine in Scotland there is a massive flux to the beaches, the jackets stay off and we all generally feel that little bit better about ourselves.

Sunshine is of course no cure of comfort for many in the depths of a depression but it really does help the majority with our mental wellbeing.

Spending time outside might make us feel that bit better about ourselves or even a tad more positive.  So, out comes the sunshine and Strawberries but one thing in addition to catching a few rays this Summer is that you can look after your own mental health by participating in some Summer sport too.

Tennis is an all year round sport but for many fair-weather fans the boom starts to hit now on the run up to Wimbledon, especially with that sun shining outside.  The beauty of this game is that you don’t need to be a Murray maestro to enjoy the benefits some gentle exercise like a light hit may have.

Two years ago saw the transformation of the courts at Brodie Park in Paisley, funded by the ATP and the scheme officially launched by Andy and Judy Murray.  The courts are free for all to use and open all year round, of course you need to bring your own racquet and balls but why not take advantage of the weather and give it a bash.

Judy Murray was back on the scene to officially re-open the courts and they have proved a hit in Paisley amongst locals.

We all know that a little exercise can go a long way in maintaining good mental health and nothing beats a little free activity, fingers crossed the sun will continue to shine.  You have nothing to lose except maybe a few pounds, do it for fun or even use the kids mini courts if your confidence on the full courts is lacking.

Story by Community Reporter

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“Build it and they will come….. and they did”

On Monday 13 May, Shared Strengths organised and hosted its first event for individuals and family members who have lived experience of self harm and for staff who provide services.

Over 80 people attended the event at the Albany Centre in Glasgow from across Scotland.   The purpose was to raise the profile of Shared Strengths, an informal network for people who recognise that some adults use self harm as a way of coping with difficult things.  The event also offered an opportunity to participate in a range of discussions, such as minimising harm and looking at self-management and recovery.   A range of practical workshop sessions were also very popular and included, jewellery making, creating safety boxes, first aid and wound care, and a music workshop.

The day started with Mike Smith, an independent mental health practitioner talking about the process of breakdown, and recovery in relation to self harm based upon his own experience alongside years of extensive study.  Later in the day over lunch, one of the participants said to me about Mikes talk “he made it so very clear and I now know where I am – and that other people have been here too and still get on with their lives”.

Mental Health in Mind, a community theatre group from West Dunbarton also presented an excellent piece of forum theatre about relationships, asking the audience to ask questions and then acted out the scenes in a different way to see if that resulted in a different outcome and it did.

One participant said “ Nobody wants to talk about self harm, especially where I live – its just too difficult  and today  I have learnt so much, got lots of ideas and met new people I can talk to”

World Cafe Table discussions

Community Reporter team

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Recovery, being part of the community and overcoming stigma

  • 90% of people who are in touch with a Mental Health Forum are in touch with an activity that helps keep them well.
  • People who have a recovery plan are often more likely to be doing activities such as volunteering and getting involved in community groups.
  • Over half the people had a physical health problem as well as their mental health problem.
  • Almost 90% of people had felt stigmatised or discriminated against.
  • Stigma and discrimination comes from staff who work in services and from people’s families as well as from the public.

“I help run a football group for people affected by mental health or disability.”

“Just starting to find my feet again – starting volunteer work next week.”

These are some of the findings in a survey carried out by West Dunbartonshire Mental Health Forum.  The report from the survey of Forum members who use mental health services was launched at the Forum’s AGM.

The Forum and the West Dunbartonshire Community Health and Care Partnership will be taking up these and other points raised in the survey.

This survey was based on an earlier one which had been led by one of the Resource Centres in West Dunbartonshire.   There are plans to carry out more surveys over the coming year, as these are giving people in West Dunbartonshire a good indication of the impact of developments such as recovery plans and other initiatives which tackle gaps identified by people who use mental health services, carers or staff.

You can read the full report at: www.otbds.org/wdmhf

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Scottish Recovery Network: National Gathering

On Monday 18th March 2013, SRN hosted their fifth national mental health recovery conference in Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium. Around 300 delegates from Scotland and beyond came together for a packed programme of guest speakers, innovative presentations and ‘open space’ discussions; while another 100 or so watched the live webcast.

To find out more about the day and to see what else SRN are involved in you can go to their web page: Scottish Recovery Network: National Gathering

Community Reporter Team

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