Community and Professional Work
Mental health campaigns and community support
Perinatal mental health
I campaign for better perinatal mental health services - working with some great people to press for 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 their families 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.
Samaritans of Bournemouth & District
It is my very great honour to be Patron for the Samaritans (Bournemouth & District). I am also responsible for publicity.
To read more about that role, click on these links:
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. The Samaritans can be contacted by e-mail, text, and letter. Branches are open in many towns and cities across the UK and Ireland for people to call into. Click here to find out more about the work the Samaritans do nationally.
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.
Tackling mental health stigma
I am part of a highly motivated team of people who are passionately committed to smashing stigma and discrimination towards mental health. Time to Change was established by Rethink Mental Illness and Mind, two of leading mental health charities in the UK. I am fortunate to know some of the most inspiring people, many of whom have lived experience of mental illness. I am also strongly associated with the Dorset Mental Health Forum, a local peer-led charity, who exist to improve the lives of everyone affected by mental illness by promoting wellbeing and recovery. I support some of their key projects, such as 'Tea and Talk' (an initiative that promotes talking openly about mental health in the workplace). You can see more about my work in mental health on the dedicated web page.
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 wellbeing. 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. Watch this space!
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.