We have exceeded an initial target of £150 to see if there was any interest out there in supporting the in2gr8mentalhealth peer forum for mental health professionals with lived experience with mental ill health. We are now onto an 'extender' target (I'm learning!) of £500. The money will help subsidise some travel for peers who are currently in recovery who are not earning or on a low wage, who would like to attend talks and meetings we are starting to run from April this year. The campaign for this target will end in April, and I will continue on Crowdfunding after that for the forum work.
Quotes from those who have pledged funding:
"Pleased that at long last the fact that mental health professionals can also have lived experience of mental health problems and the issues this may raise for them are being recognised"
"Such important work! We must keep talking about ourselves as wounded healers, or we may become wounding healers. Moreover, helping those we work with to see us in a real way can only help build equality, trust, connection and enable moving forwards."
In the second quote, there is an acknowledgement that sometimes help is required to work through the pains we experience in our own lives when they are overwhelming, in order to hear the pains of others clearly. As responsible practitioners, working under clear ethical guidance, we all understand that our health and wellbeing is paramount and of first importance, in order to practice well for others. Part of the awareness raising is to look squarely at these fears and to understand that, firstly, there is the acknowledgement that we can all suffer, and secondly that there can be important self-care work to do to make sure that if you are suffering, you can identify it and access support. AND THAT IS OK!
Negotiating such a difficult set of decisions in the midst of challenging thoughts and feelings requires informed support from ALL levels of the system. This is helped by destigmatising the experience in the first place, which is everybody's responsibility, so that helpers DO NOT feel shame in asking for help. When I knew I was unwell, I had to overcome this shame enough to make sure I was handing over any cases, speaking with my clinical supervisor and manager and my GP and my analyst and my family to put the right things in place for me. It took almost more than I could manage to do this without an advocate. This is why I grew the peer forum, no one should be alone going through this.
The more we can talk about and model this process, the more it will become something of a shared-care pathway that is normalised, accessible and compassionately supported. Negotiating these challenges well IS professional competency in action, and that professional should be praised for their strength in the storm.
Crowdfunding support is another way, albeit financial, that we understand there are supporters allied to our aims of dropping any shame associated with suffering because of the things that can happen to anyone in life, and then sharing and understanding ways to balance self and other care. We can grow from our difficult experiences to become more compassionate and understanding of others in distress. This increase in personal wisdom can be a gift from the pain we've seen through.
Thank you to all our supporters!