in2gr8mentalhealth Officially Recognised as a Pathfinder Site for Staff Wellbeing by British Psychol
From home grown, grass roots activism against the stigma of mental health professionals experiencing psychological distress... to a place at the professional table: I am delighted to announce that In2gr8mentalhealth has been formally recognised as a Pathfinder site for staff wellbeing work by the British Psychological Society (BPS) and New Savoy Partnership (NSP). This is fantastic news and I'll explain further what it really means.
In background: the BPS and NSP formed a working group, the Collaborative Learning Network (CLaN) to take forward the principles of its Staff Wellbeing Charter which was made in response to survey figures showing year on year (fifth year results due to be published in November) that the psychological therapy workforce are themselves struggling with their mental health; the Charter is a move to support staff and the actively research and challenge factors which may contribute to psychological distress in practitioners, and the stigma and shame that conspire to keep practitioners silent meaning it becomes so hard to seek help.
What it really means: Becoming a Pathfinder site means that there has been professional recognition of the human vulnerability of those who work in the mental health professions, a willingness to look at this and hear the challenges that the in2gr8 forum of members will bring to the mental health scene (professional bodies, training institutions, Trusts, Third Sector ) where there is dismissal, shaming and denial. It also means that there is a very special opportunity to share the fact that facing your own psychological distress can bring gifts, a thing not often heard spoken about because of stigma and undeniable, deep pain. However, with support, pain can bring great personal wisdom, transformation of barriers to flourishing, a sense of re-balance in the world, and an ability then to 'pass that on' to help others, this sense of transformation requires access to help via destigmatised attitudes.
Experiencing psychological distress yourself can lead to you being able to say 'I know this pain, I'm ready to help see you through yours'. What is brought through is a hard won personal knowledge of what it is like to hold onto hope when it feels like it has walked out the back door and there is nothing but darkness. It makes me think of the fantastic work that is done by our Peer Support Workers in the NHS, who are recruited purposely and overtly to bring their lived experience to work to help those currently in pain know they are not alone with having gone through that.
History and legend is full of stories where humans have encountered great strife, and because of that very experience of pain, have been able to become of great help to others. Stigma and shame destroy this narrative and we must keep it alive. Wonderful supportive communities are based on being able to raise others up and help your fellow neighbour, and receive help in return if you need it, without censure, be able to 'be alongside'.
I hope that in2gr8 members can join me, or message through me, to be a part of Pathfinder activities as I find out about them, and to voice in all authenticity about what is important to be heard. All vehicles to doing this are good! And, we will have better access to funding ourselves now, which is great, because my back pocket is rather shallow being resourced as it is by recovery administration work... but I hear the the London School for Economics are engaged with the CLaN regarding resourcing, so are on the scene!
Today we see the launch of Acton For Care Worker Wellbeing, a multidisciplinary effort focused on challenging workplace factors specifically, harassment, bullying, under resourcing, erroneous thoughts that reflective space is a luxury rather than the lungs that allow mental health teams to breathe and process the pain they aim to transform.
I will be delighted to be there to celebrate its launch. I will also be there to ensure we don't forget that mental health practitioners can also have lived through challenges of their own before they came to the work, or may be currently having personal challenges as any other.
Further, this announcement comes on World Mental Health Day, a day when the attention of our global communities are focused towards the experience of psychological distress experienced by humanity - at in2gr8mentalhealth, we know that your professional role does not make you immune to either deleterious factors in toxic work places, nor to personal challenges that can be experienced by any outside of work. in2gr8mentalhealth is a fledgling peer support, voluntary organisation providing a places of compassion, reflection and belonging for mental health professionals, and those in training, across the disciplines including psychologists, therapists, counsellors, mental health nurses, social workers in mental health. We are currently about 250 members.
More on the Collaborative Learning Network
Current Pathfinders (yes we are now amongst the giants).
Supporting decision making process around potential disclosure of mental health problems among clinical psychologists, Katrina Scior & Henry Clement, Project Leads & Event Hosts, UCL
Creating safe spaces for difficult conversations within our organisation, Anne Benson & Coreene Archer, Project Leads, Tavistock Institute
Employee Wellbeing Service- A muti-layered Approach to Wellbeing: Leadership Development & Taking Care Giving Care Rounds, Adrian Neal, Head of Wellbeing, ABUHB, Benna Waites, Joint Head of Psychology for ABUHB
Code of practice supporting Wellbeing, Liz Kell, Chair NW Psychological Professions Network
Pathfinding through mental Health & wellbeing, Louise Lyon, Tavistock & Portman NHS Trust
Supporting Leadership, Facilitating Positive emotional Climate, Dr Anne-Maria Doyle, Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Trust
Key priorities for the project include establishing resources; engagement with the key stakeholders such as IAPT, NHSE, PHE, professional bodies, HEE and CQC.
Any queries or further information, please contact Dr Natalie Kemp at firstname.lastname@example.org