June 24, Portsmouth

Opening question :

What is good mental health?

 Part I

A sense of identity

Identity, by Temi

Identity, by Temi

Feeling you belong

Friendships and relationships both good and bad

Having fun and being able to have fun

Being loved and being able to love

To feel part of something and having a sense of worth, purpose

Balance, hope

The importance of self care – being able to help ourselves

It is individual for different people, good mental health is personal to each of us

Contentment with your lot and the ability to figure out why not if not then resolving it.

Being able to recognise your own emotions

Having a network of confidants, no matter what the issue be it practical, emotional etc.

Social Network, by Claire & Temi

Networks, by Claire & Temi

To be listened to

The Ability to ask others for help, recognising the signs that you need help

Listening to others when they see your mental health is taking a knock

Is it being good enough? What are the indicators that things are going wrong?

Is it about learning to re cognise when things go wrong and noticing and getting used to it?

Learning to check where am I right now, how am I feeling physically and mentally

Remembering that thoughts are passing

Being an observer, negative thoughts jump on other things, train your mind to just observe.

Writing can really help

Direction of Thought, by Claire

Direction of Thought, by Claire

Reflection helps you to notice what is

Being able to move on

Ignoring symptoms doesn’t work!

Negative media is everywhere, why can’t we have some positive media too!?

Is a positive frame of mind necessary for good mental health?

Good enough is enough – we have high expectations and high standards of ourselves and others. Societal expectations set unrealistic expectations, there needs to be a balance between expectation and realisation

Social pressure is a high as personal pressure

Doing for others – contact someone you haven’t seen for ages, go the extra mile for someone

Who’s the judge? Who decides what is good enough

Who's Judging You? by Claire

Who’s Judging You? by Claire

Important to feel in control of your own life

Being able to recognise what is wrong and fix it yourself

5-10 mins per day to be quiet and reflect is helpful

Recognising that we are all vulnerable beings

Vulnerability exists where there is the potential for growth, whether it turns out good or bad

Ask ourselves how helpful is the current situation?

Sometimes we have unrealistic expectations of the outcomes, not everything goes well

Being supportive for others makes it harder for others sometimes

Shame – if we had a physical health issue we would be less likely to feel shame

Feeling powerless to help

Good MH is related to culture and spirituality, recognition of difference

Cultural stigma around MH is also different and affects how people ask for help

Depending on who you ask you will get different responses, sometimes cultural difference is subdued but it can be a big barrier.

Being able to be vulnerable, to be honest and to be able to leave the shame behind

Finding a safe place


Part II

When do we intervene?

Mental Health Act – always the elephant in the room

It is used a lot

Sometimes we want someone to intervene and no one does, other times help is not wanted but someone intervenes

In the anti-psychiatry movement uniqueness was more celebrated, people were allowed to work through their issues

Now there is an assumption of danger and risk is something it seems must be avoided

Can we not just be allowed to experience what we are going through?

Different Strokes for Different Folks, by Temi

Different Strokes for Different Folks, by Temi

Why do we get over response when we don’t want it and no response when we do want it?

The eligibility criteria is hard to meet to get access to formal services and is reliant on the perception of others to decide what level of help we get

The MHA implies we are dangerous – it is prejudicial

mania = help/low mood = no help as it is more socially acceptable and less disruptive

Resource is part of the issue now, people are being talked about as ‘bundles of burden’, in terms of the cost of their problems

MH staff are supposed to be non-judgemental but then are expected to make daily judgements about people as part of their practice.

When we don’t recognise it we are ill but when we do we may be seen as too well to receive help!

Staff are trained to see risk, they are risk averse. A ‘let’s see how it goes’ attitude would be more useful

There is lots of power in the system

Two Minds, by Claire

Two Minds, by Claire

if things go wrong someone is blamed and jobs are on the line

Can’t we use advanced directives in order to make sure our wishes are met when we are ill? Deciding in advance.

Asylum = respite and relief from a crisis

The current situation is that we have control and punishment, ‘respite’ used to be offered now the criteria has changed and we are firefighting, there is a lot of fighting for resource.

Surely there is an alternative solution?

Don’t pathologies everything, med and locking people up is not the answer!

TRUST is imperative

sometimes we need to be kept safe but we need to find our own sanctuary

crisis care concordat – being worked on aiming to keep self and community well, working locally for good MH

Sense of control – how do we maintain it? We have  control taken away when we become ill.


Line in the Sand, by Claire

Taking control back when we can is important.

Early intervention could prevent so much distress, only when things are desperate does help arrive.

Sometimes people don’t take the help offered.

Services are currently part of the problem not the solution.

Social networks, isolation, people who can’t access support because they aren’t in services already because they aren’t bad enough.

How do we shift money down to earlier in the system?

we need an understanding about how we feed our MH in the same way we feed our physical health.

Service language doesn’t connect with people eg ‘sleep hygiene’! – say it as you speak.

Nationally, the NHS has been tinkered with for years and has been made very imperfect.

Can we make a difference where we are?

By being eclectic – we are all human, we all have MH needs

Public health hold the money about prevention but only 1% goes into MH, there is , as yet, no parity with physical health considerations.

Suggested themes for next time were:

How do we attend to our mental health in the same way we attend to our physical health?
Is a positive frame of mind necessary for good MH?
Is there an alternative solution to current services?
How do we remain in charge of our own lives?

Next theme decided is: How do we attend to our mental health in the same way we attend to our physical health?