Meet our team
FOUNDER and CEO
Dr Natalie Kemp, Chartered Clinical Psychologist
in2gr8mentalhealth was launched in 2017, born from my own experience of breaking down as a clinical psychologist in 2015 and wanting to challenege the provider mental health stigma, vacuum of support, lack of embracing of our common humanity and loss of professional identity I felt. It seemed like a paradox that I should feel excluded and 'cast out' from a profession that otherwise specialised in mental health for others. I felt a sense of having 'transgressed' or done 'something wrong' by breaking down as a professional. Mental health professionals are human too and I couldn't understand the problem. We have good knowledge and skills around mental health in our mental health professions, but our own lived experience felt silenced, stigmatised, shamed and a taboo subject. There was a strong sense of feeling alone and then a real anger: what were we really standing for and showing others? How could we truly be a beacon for embracing, supporting or valuing lived experience, our own or others', when we were silencing our own workforce?
I wanted to find and connect with other mental health professionals with lived experience of mental health problems, for peer support and to explore just what was going wrong. I was determined to find the silenced. I launched the original peer forum at in2gr8mentalhealth after a Twitter request... and it grew to a 300 strong mental health professional space within months. Psychologists, mental health nurses, mental health social workers and occupational therapists, psychiatrists and accredited therapists and counsellors gathered. These connections nourished me as much as others shared how it helped them; it was important for us to know we weren't alone in how we'd been feeling. Stigma was a common problem and had structural implications that we challenged.
Since 2017, in2gr8 began to grow in the mental health scene as a symbol of advocacy, anti-stigma, our humanity and strength from vulnerability. At its heart was peer support and at its fingertips, engagement with the pillars of the mental health scene (Trusts, clinical trainings and professional bodies) to work on much needed cultural change. We challenged the paradox that we can find compassion for those we see, but far less for those who struggle within our workforce. We also challenged support-only talk, which minimised narratives of recovery, flourishing, and how personal wisdom and practice can be deepened because of lived experience.
Between 2018 and 2020 I have worked as a visiting lecturer to seven clinical psychology doctorate courses speaking on provider lived experience; I have spoken at 11 professional body conferences (including keynote speaker) hosted by the British Psychological Society (BPS), the RCPsych Annual Forum of the Accreditation Programme for Psychological Therapies, and the Psychological Professions Network. I have also spoken publicly on BBC World News about my work at in2gr8mentalhealth.
I lobbied for and I am a lead author of the 'Statement on clinical psychologists with lived experience' published in September 2020 by the BPS. I have worked further with the BPS on staff wellbeing resources, focussing on organisational responsibility and attending to toxic environments. I am not a lover of individual resilience rhetoric when it comes to working in our scythed public services; I have a good relationship with Unite and have lobbied Parliament on the subject. I worked as a Research Fellow at UCL Unit for Stigma Research and I am lead author of the 'Guide to supporting and valuing lived experience in clinical psychology training' published in September 2020 by the BPS.
I'm clear in my mind that we have a great opportunity, in fact responsibility, to powerfully destigmatise mental health problems in general from within our mental health profession. We do so by owning our humanity. Otherwise, we risk anyone with lived experience feeling ashamed, unvalued, unsupported and stigmatised. Quite frankly, that is not good enough. We walk the talk.
Dr Anna Chiara Sicilia, Chartered Clinical Psychologist
I am a Clinical Psychologist working part time in the NHS and part time in private practice.
I am also a human with my own lived experience of mental health difficulties. I have been through difficult times in my life and I have had to navigate the complexities that arise from being a Clinical Psychologist experiencing distress. Complexities that can bring about a lot of pain and feelings of shame, due to the stigma that still surrounds mental health in the workplace.
I am very passionate about finding ways to destigmatise, support and value lived experience of mental health difficulties in mental health professionals, as an asset to our clinical practice. My experiences were invaluable to learning about myself and how to navigate the pain that life brings at times; learning that I now treasure and that enhances my practice as a clinical psychologist.
in2gr8mentalhealth was there for me in a very powerful way when I most needed to feel that I was not the first (and certainly not the last) Clinical Psychologist to "break". It helped me rebuild and reclaim my narrative and, as a director of in2gr8mentalhealth, I now want my pain to have meaning, to bring about change and hopefully prevent other people from going through similar stigmatised/difficult experiences in their professional lives.