Thinking Outside The Forum
Speaking this morning about in2gr8mentalhealth to a peer has been so helpful. It's led me to thinking about the fact that there are different functions to in2gr8mentalhealth; raising awareness of lived experience in mental health professionals and all the identity exhilaration that are a part of that, and the potential to help provide a space where members can meet each other and speak about these explorations.
The latter seems important as it seems there still isn't enough time and space to do this 'out there' in Trusts or in training. The former is important because this dual identity of provider and service user is little understood, but exists, always has, and has important implications for tackling mental health stigma.
It will not be the case that a web forum is somewhere useful for all mental health professionals with lived experience! The forum is important in providing a belonging space, but there need to be other things, developing peer groups is promising, modeling out there where I can in the teaching slots I have occasionally. Raising awareness in general though remains ever important.
With this in mind, with the summer pending, and feeling inspired by the London Marathon today, I'm thinking about getting an in2gr8mentalhealth t-shirt made, and doing some events to raise money for in2gr8mentalhealth in its function as a campaign to tackle mental health stigma from mental health itself. If you are a member or a supporter and you want to join me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Warning, I have a fair few friends in the climbing field from being a climber a few years ago myself 😁 perhaps these worlds can collide!
Sometimes it's hard to know from my 'web world' and my 'admin job world', whether I am doing something that is the most useful 'out there' around these issues. I'm not linked in to mental health Trusts anymore, and when I have a low in my recovery, I question everything. I do have mentors who are amazing in feeding back and supporting, but this is a huge system wide issue and I hear about the fear, experience the dampening silence and feel the isolation, and sometimes that's overwhelming.
In times like that, I have to turn my focus inwards and remember what I've learned, that nothing about experiencing distress should be an impediment to moving forward in a way that's meaningful for you, or be something that can't be a source of incredible strength, increased understanding and deep compassion in the mental health professions.
When you feel you're running out of steam, share so, switch focus into a different aspect of that problem (you can't hold it all) and follow your nose.
I'm off to find a shirt printer and an event.