I am delighted today to anounce the appointment of Dr Anna Sicilia, clinical psychologist, as a Director to the Board of in2gr8mentalhealth ltd. Anna is passionate about the work in the area of mental health professionals with lived experience of mental health problems and it is wonderful that she has agreed to join.
"I first heard about in2gr8mentalhealth during a time in my life when I felt in a very dark place. I had spent months looking for something that would make me feel less lonely and isolated. It can be incredibly difficult as a clinical psychologist to experience distress because, unfortunately, there is still very much the misbelief that clinical psychologists (and other mental health professionals) should always be “well" and “grounded". Of course, this is not possible because life happens to everyone but there is still a lot of stigma around mental health and this can be incredibly silencing and harmful for people."
"I found in2gr8 on twitter and started following the page and Natalie’s work. I started realising that I was definitely not the first psychologist (nor the last) to “break". Just over a year ago I decided to go to an event Natalie was speaking at and, to my surprise, that event led to probably the most powerful moment in my journey through therapy and recovery. There was a lovely sharing of stories and through listening to others and sharing my story I finally let go of the shame that I felt as a result of being in a system and a society that still sees distress as a sign of being 'less than' or 'broken'. "
"From that moment, I decided that I didn't want my experience to be for nothing. I wanted the pain that I felt to have meaning and do something that could eventually help shift the stigma and prevent other people from going through the same experiences and pain."
"Fast forward a year and a bit, Natalie and I started working more closely together and bouncing around ideas about things we could do. She asked me to join her as a director of in2gr8mentalhealth ltd during Mental Health Awareness Week and it just felt natural to join her on this journey to embracing and valuing lived experience of mental health in mental health professionals."
"I hope that through the work at in2gr8 we can promote a culture where everyone is seen as human first and professional second. We all break, we all rebuild and there is no shame in that – it is life. It is when we break that we learn most about ourselves and these experiences can significantly enhance our practice as mental health professionals."
Together, Anna and I will be working to formalise the in2gr8mentalhealth offer to support peers, professional bodies, universities, training courses and NHS Trusts (the pillars of the mental health scene), in valuing and supporting mental health profesionals with lived experience of mental health problems. in2gr8mentalhealth started from the heart of my own breakdown as a wish to reach out and connect with other professionals in this situation, and then to challenge the often stigmatised position of lived experience in the profession and the fear that comes with that. It has emerged as an influential body on the mental health scene in the UK since its launch in October 2017. As we grow in2gr8mentalhealth in its new ltd company form, we continue to model the core strength and value of our lived experience directly in our leadership.
We are currently crowdfunding for our series 'in conversation with ' between in2gr8mentalhealth Chair, Dr Natalie Kemp, and other mental health profesionals with lived experience of mental health probems to destigmatise this position. All funds go towards helping the editing of the series. Thank you to all those who have supported us as we get this business start up off the ground!