Meet Our Team
Dr Natalie Kemp
Dr Helen Taylor
Chief Operating Officer
Dr Ali Cooper
Lead Writing Group
Dr Natalie Kemp, Founder CEO, Clinical Psychologist
I launched in2gr8mentalhealth in October 2017 after my own experience of breaking down as a clinical psychologist in service in 2015. Experiencing the shame and stigma of having mental health difficulties as a regulated mental health professional, gave birth to the anti-stigma and empowerment work of in2gr8mentalhealth. The original in2gr8mentalhealth peer forum began after making a Twitter request to connect with 'any other mental health professionals with lived experience out there?' and it grew to 300 strong in weeks. Mental health difficulties are as common within the profession as anywhere else, we had just been silenced and had nowhere to go to speak about what this felt like. The connections were nourishing for us all, it was important that we knew we weren't alone, and stigma was found to be a common problem with structural implications that we wanted to challenge.
I have spent many years in intentional long-term psychoanalysis to understand the impact of life events on my mental health and to challenge the idea that any of it should have the right to stop me from flourishing. The personal work has been transformative, hard won, has added capacity and depth to my work with others, and creativity and expansion to my life. Pain’s teachings and working through have been key to the development of my personal wisdom and spirituality today. It helps me see clear possibility for all the people I work with who, like me, might at one point have doubted their ability to be awesome. I thank all those who have supported me in different ways.
Mental health professionals, like all people, have always experienced mental health difficulties, they do today, and they will do in the future – we are not immune because we train and read books, if this were the case we would train the world! Many social injustices and terrible life events would need to be eliminated first before we saw a significant decline in mental health difficulties. The anti-stigma and peer empowerment work we do here at in2gr8mentalhealth is grounded in whole-systems working with all the pillars of the mental health scene: regulators, work places, professional bodies and clinical academia. This work is about our common humanity and acceptance of difficulties, not erasure; it’s about compassion, support, community recovery and dismantling insidious toxic attitudes propelled by stigma and systemic barriers. I enjoy our activism and being involved in lobbying for policy and guidance to support and destigmatise lived experience of mental health difficulties in the mental health professions; ‘top-down’ work matters alongside grassroots work. I have collaborated on British Psychological Society guidance, I am the co-lead author of the 'Statement on clinical psychologists with lived experience' (September 2020), lead author of “Supporting and valuing lived experience of mental health difficulties in clinical psychology training” (September 2020), and a contributing author to “Building a caring work culture – what good looks like” (April 2021). I currently split my time between in2gr8mentalhealth, and being a Senior Clinical Tutor for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire - I import my values there.
in2gr8mentalhealth is an organisation powered by its peer community, all highly skilled mental health professionals and those in training, with experience of a full range of mental health difficulties and a full range of mental health services when in need themselves. They have felt what it is like to travel our current mental health scene, have experienced coming together to help shift internalised stigma from its social and structural roots out there, and know of a better way to do things. The mental health scene still stigmatises its own, and it is not good enough. This is a home base for them and we are honoured to provide their platform.
I'm clear in my mind that we have a responsibility to destigmatise mental health problems from within our mental health profession, that we should not have to leave parts of ourselves at the professional door, that work and teaching should be respectful and valuing of vulnerability within our professional spaces, and that we must tackle discrimination. Covid-19 may have raised the game in highlighting the importance of looking after staff mental health difficulties, but the movement we are a part of, accepting and valuing lived experience in service providers, has been needed since time immemorial.
Dr Helen Taylor, Chief Operating Officer, Clinical Psychologist
I believe that no one should have to struggle alone.
Until a few years ago, I worked in the NHS as a Clinical Psychologist, walking side by side with hundreds of people in their most vulnerable moments. I did this for over 15 years and for most of that time I loved my job. What I loved most was connecting with others, sharing interesting ideas and helping to transform systems to provide the best possible support.
I learnt a lot, about the human condition and our shared humanity. However, my biggest learning has come the hard way, through my own lived experience of vulnerability, including breaking down while in my job a few years ago, as a result of unrelenting pressures and toxic systems.
I learnt that walking beside people in pain can be painful especially if that is not honoured by the environment you work in. I also learnt that people who walk beside people in pain, are human, not heroes. They have their own pain, from life or from the job, or both. I also learnt that the professional spaces we mental health professionals occupy are not particularly welcoming of the vulnerable parts of us.
I found myself at a place of reckoning with my profession. This is how I came to find in2gr8mentalhealth, initially through the forum, and then later through my own peer mentoring. Those conversations got me fired up about the ways in which mental health professionals are denied our common humanity by the professional spaces we inhabit, and identifying the way internalised shame operates to silence, ‘other’ and disempower those of us with lived experience.
I am a Clinical Psychologist with lived experience of acute distress that some people might call mental health difficulties. I choose ‘acute distress’ or ‘breakdown’ to describe my experience, rather than mental health difficulties. I personally prefer non-medicalised ways of describing emotional distress- they simply better express my world view- but I support everybody’s right to tell their story in the language that suits them best. I have always looked through a systemic lens in my work and that is why I align so much with the values at in2gr8mentalhealth.
I am excited to be part of the team here at in2gr8mentalhealth. I am passionate about stamping out toxicity in our systems and working to eradicate shame and stigma around human distress. More than anything, though, this is a place where I can finally bring my whole self to work, it is valued and welcome, and I love that.
Dr Ali Cooper, Lead Writing Group, Clinical Psychologist
I am passionate that mental health professionals should not have to struggle with their own distress while they help others. My wish is that the organisations and systems people work in could recognise the positive impact they could have on their distress.
When I first came into contact with in2gr8mentalhealth, I was full of fear, trepidation and shame. It felt a huge risk to talk about my own experiences. But I found an accepting safe space to share common themes within our experiences. in2gr8mentalhealth has been an important part of my re-building and now I feel able to contribute to a growing movement to raise awareness and give hope to people who maybe suffering alone.
Now, as an Associate, I feel honoured to be part of a collaboration with other mental health professionals co-constructing a hopeful, helpful narrative from some dark difficult times.
Roger Kemp, Company Secretary
I have worked mainly in manufacturing companies and have been a management consultant since 1978, helping many companies start up, expand or avoid liquidation. I've had my own company which manufactured electrical accessories and was sold in 2020. I specialise in accountancy and company secretarial work.
It is these business skills that I bring to in2gr8mentalhealth in 2021, to complement the business and mental health skills of the other team members. I look forward to working in the CIC and helping to fulfil the aim of making a positive impact on the mental health professional sector of the community. As father to Natalie, we have seen her go through difficult times and seen her flourish. We have supported her recovery and watched as she developed her mission out of those difficult times. I have learnt more about mental health through our experiences together. Now there is a team and she's roped me in from retirement as Company Secretary and is my boss! I am proud of her activism and strategy, the anti-stigma work of the team, and to be a part of helping develop this organisation with the skills I can bring.