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Meet Immy

I’m Immy, I’m the Mental Health Lead for The Coalition. My job is to manage the mental health team and ensure we are able to listen to as many service users and carers share their experiences of accessing mental health services within Surrey and North East Hampshire. The team then make sure this feedback is given to service providers and the commissioners to let them know what is working well for people and what needs improvement. Our staff and members then work with the professionals to develop ways to create service improvement for our residents.

Outside of work, I spend my time making delicious food and usually a massive mess too. I like to read and am often listening to an audiobook whilst doing other things. Also gardening and visiting new parts of the country with my friends on short trips. I’m also a carer for my father who uses an electric wheelchair.

Meet Guy

Hello! My name is Guy and I am the Independent Mental Health Network (IMHN) Coordinator. I have been working at The Coalition since 2018. I really enjoy my role – it’s so varied and it’s very interesting speaking to and supporting people to express their mental health stories. Our aim is to influence and design how mental health services are shaped in Surrey and NE Hants.

Outside of the IMHN, I’m a first dan black belt in kickboxing and I’m studying to get my second dan in 2023 hopefully! I like chess but don’t often get to play. I am a fully qualified Personal Trainer and really enjoy watching six nations rugby and supporting England. I’m also a petrol head and love cars preferably with a V8 engine in them!

#Timetotalk day 2022

Sarah and Matthew* share how talking and peer to peer support has been so important to them while navigating their way through the mental health system.

This Time to Talk’ day, Sarah and Matthew, share with us their experience of being carers for their daughter, who has Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Sarah and Matthew also have caring responsibilities for their grandson and make sure that Sarah’s Mum is cared for too.

Sarah and Matthew’s daughter was diagnosed with BPD several years ago.  

Quote from the couple “We had no experience of mental health at all up until that point. There was no support in place for carers and we felt very much on our own”

As Sarah and Matthew were unable to access any support to help them, they joined a local carer’s support group. After a few years the funding for the group ceased so the couple took on the group themselves. It’s now been running for 4 years and they have managed to secure some funding for the group.

Quote from the couple “It’s really important to talk things through with others in a similar situation. Everyone feels they gain so much from the group”

As well as helping to run the support group the couple are a member of the Independent Mental Health Network (IMHN) and Focus (Forum of Carers and people who Use our Services). Focus is the voice for carers and people who use mental health, learning disability, older people, and drug and alcohol services in Surrey and North East Hampshire, provided by Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

Sarah and Matthew share information between the carer’s support group and the IMHN and Focus to help improve the mental health services in the local area.

When asked to share any advice for other carers in a similar situation, finding out as much information about the support and services available is on their list.  

The couple also talked about how they have helped their daughter

“It’s a long journey, not to judge and be loving and supportive”

Sarah and Matthew, are a lovely couple that are passionate about improving local mental health services and supporting other carers. Thank you, Sarah and Matthew, for everything you do!

*Names have been changed

You can have your say on local mental health services here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/sabpsuc

For more information and support the following organisations may be able to help:

Mind: https://www.mind.org.uk/

Mind Woking: https://www.wokingmind.org.uk/

Rethink Mental Illness: https://www.rethink.org/

Rethink Support Group Woking: https://www.rethink.org/help-in-your-area/support-groups/rethink-woking-mental-health-carers-group/

Mary Frances Trust: https://www.maryfrancestrust.org.uk/

Action for Carers: https://www.actionforcarers.org.uk/

Recovery College – they run courses for carers: https://www.recoverycollegeonline.co.uk/

Time to Talk 2022

“Conversations about mental health have the power to change lives”

  • 1 in 6 adults have experienced a ‘common mental disorder’ like depression or anxiety.1
  • 2.0 million adults and 0.8 million children accessed NHS mental health, learning disability and autism services in 2020/212
  • Around 1 in 6 children aged 6 to 16 has at least one probable mental health problem in 2021, up from 1 in 9 in 2017.2
  • Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It can affect how we think, feel, and act.

Mind and Rethink Mental Illness run the Time to Talk Day for England. The event was launched in 2014 by Time to Change, a campaign to end mental health stigma and discrimination. Scotland, Wales, and Ireland are all involved in the UK wide campaign with different lead organisations (Scottish Association for Mental Health and See Me in Scotland, Inspire and Change Your Mind in Northern Ireland and Time to Change Wales).

The day promotes starting supportive conversations to reduce stigma and increase the likelihood of people reaching out for help when they need it.

It might not always feel easy to know how to talk about mental health but remember, you don’t need to be an expert or fix anything in these conversations, the most important thing is to getting talking and listening.

The following tips can help make sure you approach mental health conversations in a supportive way:

Ask questions and listen

Give people space to express their thoughts and feelings by asking open questions. Listen without displaying judgement and engage with the discussion.

Example: “How does that impact you?”

Multi-task the conversation with an activity

Talking about mental health can often feel vulnerable. Having a talk whilst doing an activity can help the conversation flow and feel less overwhelming.

Example: Walk, tea, lunch, craft activity, offer to help with the day-to-day tasks, send them a check-in text to let them know you’re thinking of them.

Ask twice and have patience

“How are you?” is often used as polite small talk. Asking twice affirms you are not just going through the motions and makes it clear you are ready and willing to listen with the mental space to do so.

Don’t try and fix it

You don’t need to be an expert to listen. Having links to organisations like Mind and Rethink Mental Illness can be useful to point people towards better suited resources and further guidance.

Treat them same

The stigma around mental health can be scary to deal with it. Reassure the person you are there to support them without judgement.

Respect boundaries

Not everyone is ready to talk openly about their experiences. Focus on creating a supportive environment that is there for if/when they wish to talk. It can be helpful to set expectations by asking the person ‘do you need me to listen or do you need me to help you figure out the next steps?’

Two speech bubbles. 'Hey, do you have the headspace for me to vent right now? I'm glad you asked, let me just grab a coffee and I'll call you. Do you want me to listen or advise?

Next steps

Learn more about Time to talk day – About – Time To Talk Day

A poster saying 'However you do it, start a conversation about mental health' People are playing scrabble with the words 'Meet' 'Talk' 'Listen'

This article was written by Megan Siarey. You can find similar posts like this at talksbymegan.co.uk and across Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn under the username @talksbymegan

References

1 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey: Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, England, 2014. – NHS Digital

2 Research briefing by Carl Baker for House of Commons Library published 13th December 2021.

Latest FoCUS poster

For all the dates of FoCUS meetings please see FoCUS poster below.

All October and December 2017 FoCUS Meetings Poster