Back to work after the summer break

I have been neglecting my blog for this month as I have been trying to get back into the rhythm of working after an enjoyable week away from things in the New Forest at the end of August.

September has certainly been a busy month. Alongside working part time in an early intervention service as a peer support worker, these are the other activities that I have been involved with. I will look back on the exciting month it has been.

  1. I was part of a new advisory group looking at Premature Mortality in Severe Mental Illness with Public Health England.

People living with SMI experience some of the worst inequalities, with a life expectancy of up to 20 years less than the general population. Death in relation to substance misuse, suicide and mental health issues are disproportionately higher in those with SMI. The most common causes of death in SMI relate to physical health issues, with cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, cancer, and digestive diseases (liver and peptic ulcer disease) accounting for over 70% of deaths seen in SMI. These all occur at a higher rate in those with SMI compared to general population.

  1. I had a week in Oxford for the Pathways to Success programme and got to meet over 100 people face to face.

Rising stars from the world of politics and business visited Magdalen for a residential as part of the Pathway to Success Leadership and Development programme, an initiative designed by Operation Black Vote (OBV) and the House of Commons in collaboration with Magdalen College, the Blavatnik School of Government (BSG), and Lloyds Banking Group to help create the next generation of ethnic minority leaders. Pathway provides the participants from ethnic minority backgrounds with an unparalleled experience by having them engage with outstanding individuals from leading social, political, academic, and business institutions. Crucially, this is followed by a mentoring scheme in which Magdalen alumni support each participant on their individual pathway to success.

  1. I finished off some coding work for the study at the University of Manchester looking at the ethnic disparities in severe mental distress.

There is much controversy about why some people have poorer life chances, and specifically poorer experiences of health and mental health. One explanation for ethnic inequalities seen in the mental health system, and in society in general, is racism. The place of racism as a cause of mental illness, or factor that leads to poor health, is contested. This is mainly as the evidence is emerging but also as there are strongly held views, both by people who do not want to talk about racism and those that do. Racism is an unpleasant reality. However, it exists in many forms and acts not only through interpersonal assaults, but also through societal structures. This research hopes to support actions to improve population mental health, specifically to reduce ethnic inequalities in experiences and outcomes of severe mental illnesses.

  1. I sat on the Population Health and Prevention Programme Board, Turning the Tide Oversight Transformation Board, and Health Inequalities Steering Group with the Sussex Health and Care Partnership.

The Sussex Health and Care Partnership is a collaboration of health and care organisations across Sussex. The aim is to improve the health of the populations we serve and ensure organisations are working in the most effective and joined-up way. They work in partnership across Sussex, as well as across our ‘places’ of Brighton and Hove, East Sussex and West Sussex. There is an agreed vision for the future – Sussex 2025: Our vision for a healthier future – that sets out where they want to be as a health and care system in the future. It is a vision where people live for longer in good health; where the gap in healthy life expectancy between people living in the most and least disadvantaged communities will be reduced; where people’s experiences of using services will be better and where staff feel supported and work in a way that makes the most of their dedication, skills and professionalism. It is a vision where the cost of health and care will be affordable and sustainable in the long term.

  1. I took part in the third Lived Experience Full Council meeting for Healthy Brains Global Initiative.

The Healthy Brains Global Initiative (HBGI) is a non-profit that aims to mobilize US$10 billion for brain health research to benefit people living with neurological and mental health disorders. The vision: A world where no one is limited by neurological or mental health problems and a healthy brain span is equivalent to life span. The mission: Improve the lives of people affected by neurological and mental health problems. They achieve this by fully embedding the perspectives of people with lived experiences, financing breakthroughs from prevention to treatment, and driving a new model of global collaborative research.

  1. I listened to some of the talks for #IamRemarkable Week 2021, attended UCL’s Institute of Mental Health’s International Conference, took part in the Royal College of Psychiatrist’s Patient and Carer’s Conference.

#IamRemarkable is a Google initiative empowering women and other underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond.

The UCL conference covered the following themes: Suicide and Self Harm, Lived Experience Research, Precision Psychiatry, Basic Neuroscience, Keynotes, Panel Discussions and the wonderful Poster Prize.

The RCPsych conference focused on co-production and the following topics: How can patient and carer representatives support the College to promote equality and diversity? Communication: what has been the impact of COVID on ways of working and how can we promote good communication in the future? What might the patient and carer representative role look like in the future? How could patient and carer representatives support the College to deliver on some of its strategic aims for 2021-2023 (being the voice of psychiatry, recruitment and retention and training and promoting research in psychiatry)

  1. I joined King’s College London’s Lived Experience Advisory Panel for the RECOLLECT study.

RECOLLECT stands for Recovery Colleges Characterisation and Testing, and is a programme of research investigating Recovery Colleges. They have been awarded two National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) grants to further our understanding of Recovery Colleges in England. The study aims to address how Recovery Colleges can provide the most benefit to people who use mental health services. It will: Explore the characteristics of Recovery Colleges and how closely they follow the developed fidelity measure; Establish the costs associated with Recovery Colleges; Look at how Recovery Colleges impact student outcomes at 4, 8 and 12 months after joining; Explore the relationship between a Recovery College’s fidelity score and student outcomes for those who have recently used mental health services; Refine the previously developed change model for service user and students; Asses the effectiveness and cost effectiveness of Recovery Colleges; Examine the relationship between Recovery Colleges, student outcomes and resource use; Establish the wider (organisational and contextual) factors influencing fidelity and outcomes; Finalise the programme theory of RECOLLECT.

  1. I had a family meal in London to celebrate my sister’s birthday, played pool with a couple of mates in Sussex, and have been trying to get fit by doing weekly personal circuit training workouts in the park.

All in all, it has certainly been a busy month. I will attempt to blog once a week to keep up the consistency with this blog. So until next time folks!