Meet our team
FOUNDER and CEO
Dr Natalie Kemp, Chartered Clinical Psychologist
I launched in2gr8mentalhealth 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, a sense of having 'transgressed' or done 'something wrong' by breaking down, the vacuum of support, and a lack of embracing of our common humanity. It seemed a paradox to feel excluded and 'cast out' from a profession that stated its compassion for those with mental health difficulties in the clients that we see.
I couldn't understand the problem. We have good knowledge and skills around mental health, but our own lived experience felt silenced, stigmatised and shamed. There was a strong sense of feeling alone, 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 after making a Twitter request for other professionals with lived experience out theree, 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 nowheree 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 in how we'd been feeling, stigma was found to be a common problem with structural implications that we wanted to challenge.
Since 2017, in2gr8 has grown in the mental health scene as a mental health professional anti-stigma symbol, one of empowerment, advocacy, humanity and strength from vulnerability. At its heart was peer support and at its fingertips essential engagement with the pillars of the mental health scene: we work systemically with Trusts, clinical trainings and professional bodies on much needed cultural change. We have good connections with service user allies in raising lived experience up, in particular, of patient leadership.
It takes lobbying, policy involvement and speaking out: I spoke at 11 professional body conferences in just over a year, 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 also spoke 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 worked as a Research Fellow at UCL Unit for Stigma Research and I am lead author of the guidance on 'Supporting and valuing lived experience in clinical psychology training' 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 currently split my time between in2gr8mentalhealth, the Staff Psychological and Welfare Support Team at University College London Hospital and being a Schwartz Round Mentor.
I'm clear in my mind that we have a responsibility to destigmatise mental health problems from within our mental health profession, not have to leave parts of ourselves at the professional door, work and teach with vulnerability having it's place IN the room, and 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 for many, many years.
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.