Meet our team
FOUNDER and CEO
Dr Natalie Kemp, Chartered Clinical Psychologist
in2gr8mentalhealth is a centre for valuing, supporting and destigmatising lived experience of mental health difficulties in the mental health profession. I launched it in October 2017 after my own experience of breaking down as a clinical psychologist in service in 2015.
I wanted to challenge provider mental health stigma, the vacuum of support, a lack of embracing of our common humanity and needless 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, 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: how could we truly be a beacon for embracing lived experience when we were silencing our own workforce?
I launched the original in2gr8mentalhealth peer forum for mental health professionals after making a Twitter request for anyone out there ‘like me’, and it grew to a 300 strong space within months. Of course there was, mental health difficulties are as common within the profession as anywhere else, we had just been silenced. These connections were nourishing for us all, it was important that we knew we weren't alone in how we'd been feeling, stigma was found to be a common problem and it had structural implications that we wanted to challenge.
Since 2017, in2gr8 grew in the mental health scene as a symbol of empowerment, advocacy, 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 systemically 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 and flourishing, and how personal wisdom and practice can be deepened because of lived experience.
I have worked as a visiting lecturer on the subject to nine clinical psychology doctorate courses; I have spoken at 11 professional body conferences (including keynote speaker) hosted by the British Psychological Society (BPS), the Royal College of Psychiatry 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 co-lead author of the 'Statement on clinical psychologists with lived experience' published in September 2020 by the BPS. I have worked 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 and have a good relationship with Unite, lobbying 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, indeed responsibility, to join movements to destigmatise mental health problems, by doing so from within our mental health profession. We own our common humanity. 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.