As someone with multiple mental health issues who is also in full time employment this is something i can really relate to.

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Just to let you know our survey is still open and thank you to everyone who has replied so far!

The Great Balancing Act

As part of my job for YoungMinds and the NHS developing a mental health & wellbeing app i have created a survey to gather some more information and ideas.

This survey is for young people (aged 11-25) living in London. It’s quick and completely anonymous and it would be really helpful if you could fill it out and send it on to anyone else you think might be interested.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Young_People

Thanks!

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Survey for Young Londoners

As part of my job for YoungMinds and the NHS developing a mental health & wellbeing app i have created a survey to gather some more information and ideas.

This survey is for young people (aged 11-25) living in London. It’s quick and completely anonymous and it would be really helpful if you could fill it out and send it on to anyone else you think might be interested.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Young_People

Thanks!

Yesterday i attended the London launch of “Rethink Your Mind”. They are running a competition to help raise positive awareness of mental health and to help change attitudes.
Based on the sentence “With good mental health i have..” they are encouraging people to submit their art, photography and poems to be made into a book.

Entries are accepted from 10th October (World Mental Health Day) until the 31st of January 2013.
You can upload your work onto the website at Rethinkyourmind.
Or post it to them directly along with your contact details (check website for postal address).

The event yesterday launched the competition and we also heard from speakers from a wide array of very well respected organisations including Bipolar Aware, SiSo and NSUN.

We had interesting, sometimes heart-warming, at points heart breaking speeches from representatives from these organisations and from Peter, the man who’s brainchild “Rethink your mind” is. It was Peter, in particular, who really shone out for me and i immediately pounced on him during a break to tell him how inspiring the work he has done is!

I also got to meet and speak with some really wonderful, like minded people, made a lot of contacts, certainly learnt a lot and walked away feeling confident, happy and desperate to spread the message of Rethinkyourmind.

I would strongly recommend you all check out the website and spread the word!

Check out this Rethinkyourmind.

Or find them on social media:

Rethinkyourmind on Facebook.

@rethinkyourmind

Thank goodness it’s Friday!

It has been a very productive week in the office but in my poor sleep deprived, zombie-esque state i am rather happy to have reached the end of the working week. My sleep tracker app tells me i am very much in debt to the sandman.

A lot of progress has been made though, we have been working hard in the office, mapping even more services (now almost 400!), going on fact finding missions, blogging and i’ve been busting some jargon to help young people navigate the often nonsensical world of psych-speak.

And next week is looking like another busy one, not that that’s a bad thing!

On Monday i will be attending the London Launch of Rethink Your Mind. which is being held at Tuffnell Park Tavern (12:30-16:30) and is free. The details are below if you also wish to attend. It looks like a fantastic opportunity to hear some really interesting people speak and do some networking.

On Wednesday the team and I shall be sitting down with
BrightLemon. to start working on building the app and website which is very exciting!

On Friday i shall be back in the offices of the Royal College of Psychiatrists fact finding and talking about quality & improvement in CAMHS.

And Saturday sees the return of YoungMinds VIK day which is something i always look forward to. To find out more about the work the VIK project do click here.

 

So i hope you all have a good weekend and hopefully come Monday i shall be a bit more awake! We will also be sending out surveys & sharing our initial web page with you early next week so watch this space!

In the meantime you can:
Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

Mapping mental health

Last year young people from organisations including YoungMinds Very Important Kids (VIK) project, Right Here Newham and the Peer Outreach group at the GLA got together to discuss one of the last taboos: mental health, with a particular focus on how it affects them as Londoners. Their work led to the London State of Mind manifesto, a document put forward to advise decision makers about what is important to young Londoners and what improvements they want to see. This was launched last year at city hall and quickly gained cross-party support.

One point is of particular importance and has led to my job being created. Point five, “tell us where we can go when we need to get help”. I am currently working for YoungMinds on secondment to NHS London and we are working on a very exciting project in response to this.

We have decided to develop an app and online space to help young people find out what help is available in their area.

While this started off at looking purely at mental health services we soon realised this wouldn’t be enough. Mental health is not something experienced in isolation, especially for young people, and has large overlaps and affects areas such as relationships, physical health and substance use. Therefore we decided to embark on a somewhat more challenging task: mapping wellbeing services in the capital and helping young people to find them as well as producing materials to support young people along the way.

Just over two weeks in and we have already accomplished a lot. We have begun mapping services and meeting with young people and organisations from all over London. We will continue to engage with as many young people as we can as I believe participation is key to this being a useful and hopefully successful tool.

We want this to be more than just a wellbeing “Yellow pages” and for that we need your experiences and recommendations of services. Your local knowledge and experiences are invaluable to making this work so tell us about anything you think might be of interest that you know about and let us know what services you use.

So what next?

I will be blogging at YoungMinds and at MyHealthLondon on a fortnightly basis, keeping you up to date with what we’re doing and how you can help.

We will be running consultations with young people, the dates aren’t fixed yet but if you’re interested in getting involved please email me at Katherine.Cormack@london.nhs.uk.

Kat Cormack

 Read the full London State of Mind manifesto here.

The ATOS Closing Ceremony

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Ever since the Olympics started i must admit i have been a little bit obsessed. I certainly wasn’t expecting this to happen, i have a history of  being pretty apathetic about large sporting events. That it was being held  in a city i lived closed to and had just started working in i expected the whole thing to be a bit of a hassle but i think the opening ceremony drowned any pessimism or apathy i may have had and from then on i was gued to the television watching these amazing athletes and feel a bit of pride slip back into our lives as British people.

I always knew though that when the Paralympics started i would be much more invested. Not only have my own mental health problems frequently been referred to as a disability, i have numerous friends with varying levels of disabilities. This became an even bigger part of my life when i began a relationship with someone with a long history of teaching SEN children and then when i worked for 18 months as healthcare support worker for children with complex physical needs.

I would have loved to get tickets, especially for the Paralympics but alas i have been far too busy and not nearly organised enough.

Last Friday however i found myself at a ceremony, not your usual one either, but the Closing Atos Ceremony held in protest of  ATOS and their participation in the Patalympic Games (they are one of the biggest sponsors of the Games). Well not so much found myself. The minute i heard that this protest was being held so  close to my place of work that i could get there and back in a lunchbreak i knew i had no excuse. I had to go and be counted.

Now i’ll admit i am politically minded, to be honest, in our society i think you have to be. I know my rights and fight for the rights of others. So it was understandable that i would gravitate towards such an event and understand the roots of its frustration which is an area that only affects me but the lives of my loved ones and the profession in which i work.

However what surprised me far more than the sheer number of people that descended on the headquarters of Atos on Friday, was the number of people, when i explained myself plans, asked “what’s ATOS” and were completely unaware of who they are let alone what they stand accused of by many.

So let me give you a little introduction to the cause of the outrage, a kind of “Blood on your hands 101”.

Paralympic sponsor engulfed by disability tests row .

Empty words don’t fund a full life for disabled people.

ATOS fatcat lands 1m bonus .

Some will claim they are only doing their job; for me that sounds a bit too like “I was just following orders”. The tests that are being used are deeply flawed and this is having a huge consequence to the lives of thousands across the country. By branding people on benefits en masse as “scroungers, cheats and thiefs” you have poisoned society towards some of the most vulnerable people in our society who often had little enough to begin with. Hate crimes against the disabled are soaring while help is being slashed. People are literally dying over this.

Unfortunately with my lunch break fast drawing to a close i had to leave and as i was a van and several more police officers were arriving. By the time i got back to the office i found out via Twiter and UK Uncut that protestors has barricaded themselves into the Department of Work and Pensions and things were starting to turn a bit nasty.

By the time i got back home i was sent footage shown on both ITN & Five News.

This is more a general overview of the protest

http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?v=10151197625724493

This contains scenes of some of the more heavy handed behaviour displayed. And shows two women pushed out their wheelchairs. Personally i found this footage extremely upsetting, not in the least because i met and talked with several of the people you can see in the video. So pleased be warned it is pretty ugly and may well be upsetting so please bear this in mind if you chose to watch it.

http://video.uk.msn.com/watch/video/atos-protesters-clash-with-police-at-dwp/2gz10s88?from=

And a live feed from the day.

But my experience of the event was entirely positive and i am devastated that what everyone protesting hoped would be a peaceful, creative event was marred with arrests and violence.

What i saw was a group of fiercely passionate, proud people who stood in front of the gates of their personal hell and demanded to be heard. Spirits were high, people were talking to each other, engaging, dancing even!

I was interviewed by the Socialist Worker. I was asked if i thought this was a turning point in rights for the disabled.

I had to reply that this is something, this is a good thing but it’s not the start and it won’t be the end. Anger & discontent has been rising for a long time now and i have been attending similar protests for years, i have been to several Hardest Hit marches and regardless of the number of people that turn up and shout until they lose their voices its hard not to feel ignored. We have to keep fighting in order for our voice to be listened to, not just heard, and for things to  change for the better for the most vulnerable in society.

This was definitely a sentiment i heard repeated over the day, we are here, we will keep coming back, we will keep making our voices heard.