In2gr8mentalhealth started with a focus on offering a membership based peer support forum for clinical psychologists (prequalified and qualified). This was in response to results from the 2015 surveys of the clinical psychology workforce by the British Psychological Society and University College London.
The surveys showed that two thirds of the workforce were struggling with their mental health and wellbeing due to over demanded, under resourced services, and mental health factors common to humanity regardless of role.
It was a call to rethink the polarised illusion of 'us and them' and 'service user and service provider' as being fixed identities which do not fluctuate. This does not reflect humanity's truth that we can all struggle with mental ill health at different times given a coming together of various internal and external pressures in life.
What is still true, is that mental health professionals can feel stigmatised in their suffering because they are 'supposed to be the helpers' not those needing help. But then that means they need to leave their humanity at the professional door? Hire robots then and check how they do with empathy.
As information about the in2gr8mentalhealth forum was shared, mental health professionals other than psychologists approached, speaking about how difficult it has also been for them to find a way to talk about their experiences and have them validated and normalised.
In2gr8mentalhealth is opening the forum to other mental health professionals with lived experience of mental ill health.
A reminder for those concerned and advice for mental health services: when you are a professional who is able to talk about your capacity to other- and self-care as a normal part of your supervision, monitor and communicate when your capacity is being challenged, act with all due integrity to manage your workload or take flexible working or mental health leave to recover, this is being a competent professional. Issues of capacity and competency should be differentiated and not conflated.
Mental Health workplaces now have a responsibility to provide safe spaces where these conversations can be had. This needs modelling as we have a long way to go. It's all very well encouraging sharing, but what kind of culture are we sharing into? At the moment? A stigmatising one that doesn't know it's competencies from its capacities it often seems.
If you are a mental health professional with lived experience of mental ill health interested in discussing this with others in your situation, contact the members only forum through the contact box on the website www.in2gr8mentalhealth.com and confirm your 'dual status'. We can then approve your membership.
Dr Natalie Kemp
Chartered Clinical Psychologist with Lived Experience of Mental Ill Health