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Speaking at the Accreditation Programme for Psychological Therapies #APPTS

I am delighted to be speaking at this forum on 13th November about my story of being a 'dual status' mental health professional, that is, one with qualified and lived experience of mental ill health. Although my story is mine, my voice is in choir with many who are also in this situation, each of their stories as individual and as important as the next.

We have thoughts, comments, recommendations, questions, and assertions to make about our place in the mental health system. We have struggled with stigma and silencing at the cost of our own well-being. We work to be excellent psychologists, empathic about the journey of being a help seeker in pain, and ethical in the management of our own self care so as best to be able to help others. Isn't this balance applicable to all those who do human work, and beyond?

In this time, when we are beginning to open our eyes to the needs of our Care Force, on whom rests the well-being of our clients (us when unwell), our biggest risk is to remain blinded to our shared humanity. It is not whether we might suffer and need to manage our mental ill health at times which is the problem, the problem is assuming that this negates a practitioner's very competence, rather than a sure sign of 'human-ness'.

Training from the beginning to understand ourselves in our work through self, peer and supervised reflection, so we can more clearly hear and discriminate the needs of the 'other', gives us a good platform to manage our ethical responsibilities with integrity if unwell. Work to open up and normalise these conversations further at training level is the way forward.

Our voice may be less heard and yet we are heavily represented; we aim to turn the volume up. We are an inherent part of mental health services already, and have been for some time. Speaking out is to help break down the illusional schism in services between 'them and us' which bears little resemblance to 'how things are'.

Those trainee/assistant/qualified psychologists who also have lived experience of mental ill health, join the forum where I have set up a space to collect any comments to add to mine for the APPTS forum on 13th. Question: Is there anything you would like accredited psychological services to consider on behalf of staff who are 'dual status'?

Any comments added to the end of this blog here will be public.

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