October 28, Portmouth

Opening question:

How do we attend to our mental health in the same way we attend to our physical health?

Part I

Talking with people, friends/family

Hope and Despair

Hope and Despair, by Claire

Getting involved with groups

Those in a professional background somethings find it uncomfortable to ‘change sides’

Eating well and exercise are excellent for MH even when you can’t talk to people

We are one whole

GPs understands physical health more so attend to it more

More money is spent on physical health care

There is a visibility with many physical health issues that is not apparent with MH issues, if someone can see that something is painful they respond accordingly but it’s not obvious with MH

Everyone is different, we feel things differently and others can’t know how we feel.

MH affects physical health

Exercise can be hard

Bananas are good for mood

Once your MH is stable your physical health also improves

Recognition of illness is harder in MH

We monitor physical health, we should monitor MH too eg. if waking at 4am for 4 days in a row then this could indicate that something is amiss and further action is needed.

It can be a challenge monitoring MH when your mind is the thing that is out of whack.

Some coping mechanisms look of eg. overwork, how do we know when it’s become dysfunctional?

Care plans for everyone – having someone who knows what your red flags are is important and can help when you aren’t able to spot MH issues yourself.

It is essential that we are as self-aware as possible though and know our own red flags

The full context needs to be considered not just the focus on symptoms


Changes, by Claire

If we all had wellness recovery action plans of some sort it would help others understand and know what to do if we became unwell

Even in supported housing though it is not always spotted when someone is going downhill.

Using our support networks is important, people who know and understand so you can check in with them when you need to and for them to notice when you are at risk

Finding people who can fulfil this role is not unproblematic

Having a good personal network is valuable

A positive approach is also important, actively finding who in our networks can fulfil these roles

We need to look at what the person can do themselves and build on that, not just look to see what we can do for them.

We may not always notice our mood going down, but once we notice then it is important to sit in the moment and identify the emotions and face it.

Understand that we are human and will make mistakes, accepting responsibility when we need to.

Rather than allowing ourselves to be consumed by stress, to make the choice to do something about it.

Moving away from the stress can be the most difficult thing but once we have done it there will be benefits

If we go on auto-pilot all the time nothing changes, taking control means taking a risk

Life is scary, face the fear and do it anyway!

Even positive stress is stressful!

Exercise, physical healthcare, sleep and good eating are all essential in managing our MH actively

Just being present with what is going on and not trying to change it can help

it can take great pain and time to find ways of managing things

CBT can be really helpful


Mood Food, by Claire

NHS courses on healthy eating useful.

It is continued work

There is some comfort in our bad habits, so it is important to recognise our state of mind.

A list of what would help is good, but the act of doing is hard, there is comfort in the familiar.

They are often rules of survival, things that we have learnt to do in order to stay alive.

Wisemind will help us mediate when we are wilful, self-awareness alone is not enough.

Part II

How do we make that change? Move from the familiar to action?

If it is our issue it’s harder to act and see it but easier to advise others.

Acceptance is the most important thing, to learn to stop lying to ourselves

Be kind to ourselves

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy can be helpful – the leaf in the stream

Even the feeling that ACT is shite – let it go!

Talking about it is not possible for everyone

It needs to be in the right place in the journey

Honesty with ourselves is key

Deal with it and try to mend it, learn to live with it, realise how it affects others

Denial can be strong and takes time to break

Tree of Denial, by Claire

Tree of Denial, by Claire

Mindfulness is useful in many ways and can also be a tool to ensure conformity

A laissez faire state once created could ensure that nothing changes, the political aspect of this method cannot be ignored.

Not everything works for everybody.

Personalised, realistic goals need to be set and not those imposed upon us by others expectations

Recognise how we are all different and find what works for you

Recognising and meeting your level of breaking point can be a challenge

Mindfulness and yoga can be a lifesaver, but sometimes your usual practices don’t penetrate your mood

Art therapy is also very useful

Environmental cues and willingness to see when changes need to be make.

Professionals over react to do what they feel they ‘should’ do eg. MHA

The way the MHA has been administered has led to a certain way of thinking which is very stigmatising

Being treated like an adult really helps

Sometimes others expectations of you don’t allow you to move.

We are constantly reminded, in MH care, of our history at the same time as being told to get over it.

Family therapy is very important

Big pharma has some responsibility in maintaining the status quo in MH

Uniforms in MH wards are universally disliked as they imply a status which is prejudicial

We are Golden 2

Golden, by Claire

The current system is very dysfunctional and perpetuates lies, stigma and shame.

Have services a positive role to play in helping us make a change?

Some campaigns are really helpful and things have changed eg. the Recovery college

Only in 2010 did universities stop being prejudiced against people with MH issues although it still isn’t easy and many still lie about their MH status.

Things are evolving

People with MH issues have more say now in MH services and are beginning to be part of the system

We can relate to our own experiences but also to others too

Useful services don’t have to be focussed on MH we just need opportunities to attend to our MH.

There is more emphasis on creativity which gives life more value

Movement towards positive psychology in research is useful.

Suggested themes for next time were:

What is is about society that makes people unhappy?

Is it a breakdown of society ie communities?

How to maintain open dialogue round mental health in Portsmouth?

The Good Mental Health Cooperative issue a call to action for the people of Portsmouth to keep mental health on the agenda of the community and those that influence service provision as they move the hosting of the Mental Wealth Trialogues to Southampton.