Breaking down barriers to mental health

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					           “Breakdown to breakthrough the barriers to mental health”

I am delighted to be able to join this “Breakdown to breakthrough the barriers to
mental health” conference this morning. First of all I would like to thank Lorraine
Moran and Julie Matthews for inviting me to celebrate the work that has been
achieved by the new Chard Day Service since it‟s opening here at the Youth Centre.

When Julie asked me if I could say a few words on “Breakdown to breakthough the
barriers to mental health”, I first thought about the people who might be affected by

      One in four people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the
       course of a year

      Mixed anxiety and depression is the most common mental disorder in Britain.
       Between 8-12 % of the population experience depression in any year.

      About 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time

      Depression affects 1 in 5 older people living in the community and 2 in 5 living
       in care homes

      One in a hundred people have schizophrenia

      Over 630,000 people access secondary mental health services each year

This means that most people will know someone who has a mental illness and yet
people are still being stigmatised, leading them to feel isolated and excluded from
day to day activities that the rest of us take for granted, such as

      Finding and keeping work
      Being in a steady, long-term relationship
      Living in decent housing
      Being socially included in mainstream society.

Mental health problems are still surrounded by ignorance, fear and prejudice.

So what can we do to change people‟s attitudes to mental illness?

The Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is working to promote good mental
health and well-being and tackle discrimination against the people who use our
services. As the Chief Executive, I have recognised the significant steps that the
Trust has made over the years changing the way that our services are delivered.

We no longer have large institutions where people are shut away out of sight.
People are now offered support close to their own homes, and where appropriate
this might actually be within their own homes. When people are admitted to hospital
they will find that the large Nightingale Wards have now gone. Privacy and dignity
has been a key area for the Trust, we have modernised our hospitals to ensure that
people have their own bedrooms and also designated areas for women only.
The Trust has a wide range of community based services such as Crisis Resolution
and Home Treatment, Early Interventions in Psychosis, Employment Support and
Support, Time and Recovery which can work with people at the earliest stages of
their illness. This allows people to have more control in the way that we work with
them as evidence shows that this is a more effective way of working and can reduce
the impact of mental illness on their lives as a whole.

One of the most important changes of all has been in the values and attitudes of our
staff who now work alongside people, identifying goals and aspirations that they
would like to achieve, supporting them through to recovery.

The word “Recovery” in mental health is sometimes misunderstood, it is about
individuals taking control of their lives and actively working towards managing their
own well being. There is now overwhelming evidence of people who have
experienced mental health problems yet also achieve a full and meaningful life –
living as well as possible.

This is where the value of Peer Support really shines, bringing together people who
have these experiences and offering each other support and learning through
sharing techniques and strategies for maintaining their well being.

The Trust is supporting the development of Peer Support Groups across Somerset
and I understand that Chard‟s Peer Support Group is one of the most active and
enthusiastic of groups thanks to the energies of Julie and the people here today.

Returning to the question of what we can do to tackle the stigma around mental
health illness, there are a number of local and national organisations who are
tackling this problem. As an example Mind and Rethink along with ourselves are
involved in the Time to Change campaign which is being run in Somerset. Earlier
this year the „Time for Change‟ sofa toured Somerset visiting all the main towns. 80
volunteers from statutory agencies, voluntary and third sector including service users
and carers supported the campaign. This is a three year national campaign to
change attitudes towards mental illness. We are planning next year‟s activities.

Another way we are seeking to tackle stigma and promote understanding is through
our NHS Foundation Trust membership. As a Foundation Trust, we have set
ourselves the ambitious target of recruiting 10,000 members of the public to join the
Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust by May 2010. We already have over
6000 members including service users, members of their families and carers, former
service users, health and social care professionals and members of the public who
have an interest in mental health issues.

An important challenge for all our Members is to act as advocates in reducing the
stigma of mental illness so a positive action that you can take away with you today
would to become a member of the Trust.

I believe that working together we can break down the barriers and open the doors of
opportunity for those who have experienced problems with their mental health and
well-being. I wish this conference every success in its efforts to break down these
barriers. Thank you.

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