Dr Andrew Mayers
PhD, MBPsS, FRSA
(Faculty of Science and Technology)
Poole BH12 5BB
Principal Academic, BU
Patron, Dorset Mind
Chair, Acts Fast
Community and Professional Work
Perinatal mental health
I campaign for better perinatal mental health services - working with some great people to urge more high quality services across the UK, including accessible mother an baby units and comprehensive community services (backed up by a network of appropriate peer support groups). I also promote greater awareness about perinatal mental health, helping mothers (and fathers) to find it easier to talk openly - and seek the help they need. You can read more about that work on the perinatal mental health pages.
Related to that work, a consequence of poor perinatal mental health is the impact it can have on the attachment between the parent and child. Poor attachment can contribute to developmental problems in children. To address this, I am a Trustee for DorPIP, a Dorset-based charity seeks to provide therapeutic support for parent-infant relationships.
Dorset Mental Health Alliance
The Dorset Mental Health Alliance (DMHA) is a consortium of NHS providers, charities and support groups all working together to promote and support mental health campaigns and (together) influence real change. I am currently DMHA Chair. You can read a little more about that on the Mental Health page.
Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust
It is my honour to serve as Public Governor for Dorset HealthCare, the mental health and community health trust for Dorset. My role is to be a critical friend' to the board (with a particular focus on maintaining excellent mental health services), contribute to the recruitment of the Chair and non-executive board, and act as ambassador.
Great things are happening at Dorset Mind right now, so I am proud and privileged to acts as Patron for them. I advise on mental health support, especially on ensuring that peer support staff services are safe and appropriate (for those giving the support and the service users being supported). Dorset Mind run a range of services across Dorset, including specialist groups for anxiety, women, and the LGBT community. We are now developing ground-breaking services for young people (Mind Your Head) and mental health in the workplace (Dorset Mind Works).
Between 2011-8, it was my great honour to be Patron for the Samaritans (of Bournemouth and District). In that role, I used my local and national influence to raise the profile of the Samaritans and promote the work being done. I still act as Publicity Officer. I am also a vocal advocate for Samaritans nationally. The Samaritans' listening volunteers provide emotional support to anyone feeling distressed, despairing, or suicidal. They do this 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year (free call 116 123). The Samaritans can also be contacted by e-mail or text. Branches are open in many towns and cities across the UK and Ireland for people to call into. Locally, I am part of a panel formulating the Dorset Suicide Prevention Plan (led by Dorset CCG and Public Health Dorset). I see the Samaritans as being a central part of that conversation.
Tackling mental health stigma
Mental health stigma draws on discrimination and prejudice, perpetuating myths (such as 'people with mental health problems are lazy', 'should pull themselves' or 'they're a burden on society'. We must challenge stigma, otherwise those already suffering are even less likely to seek help, for fear of judgement (something we call self-stigma). Time to Change was established by Mind and Rethink Mental Illness (two of leading mental health charities in the UK) to tackle stigma. I am proud to be a Time to Change champion. Together, we can really can make it OK to talk about mental health.
Children and young people
Mental health education and support in schools
One of my key goals is to take mental health education and support into schools. We need to equip our young people with emotional coping skills, resilience and awareness about mental health and well-being. We may not prevent the onset of mental illness, but we can help young people understand what to look out for in themselves and their friends. We also need to provide teachers and support staff with skills to help young people with mental health problems. I am working with some great people to make this ambition a reality. Dorset Mind is doing some great work right now!
Child sexual abuse
Quite apart from being the most horrific of crimes, child sexual abuse is one of the strongest predictors and risk factors for serious mental illness later in life. It is my honour to act as Chair of Trustees for ActsFast. There are many child abuse charities, but ActsFast is different. This Bournemouth-based group aims to support the protective families of victims. Following completion of a child abuse case, all of the agencies (Social Services, the Police, the courts, etc.) close their books. However, the child and the (remaining) family are left alone to cope with all of the effects of a potentially wrecked life. ActsFast step in to fill that vacuum. I will keep you informed about our work.
I am also linked with the 70/30 (Wave Trust) Campaign, seeking to reduce child maltreatment by 70% by 2030. Child maltreatment inevitably includes sexual abuse. I am among those officially endorsing the campaign (alongside several leading MPs)