Foreword by Gita Bhutani, PPN North West Chair
It’s an unfamiliar place and time we live in now. Probably very few of us have a plan or script for how we cope with this situation and the potential future. I’m sure most of us have found it unsettling to stop doing the things we take for granted in our lives. These may be the chores that we’re not so keen on – grocery shopping, paying bills or the activities we enjoy – films, live entertainment, eating out, exercising, socialising. For the former, we still have to do them but find different ways of doing them and the same is true of the latter. Online platforms are available but acoustics and connectivity may be a challenge.
This week I've been to Bristol for the launch of PPN in the South West. This is the result of the hard work by Catherine Gallup, Ken Laidlaw and Phil Self who have secured funding to develop the South West Psychological Professions Network.
The national conversation is due to start for Psychological Professions into Action. Some of you may have already heard of this, some of you may already signed up and some of you may have been at the conference and heard more about it there.
What’s the purpose of classifying things? We do this every day – we use it to make sense of our world. At its most basic, it is about pattern recognition and realising that some things are similar and some are not. This can be distinguishing between adults and children, birds and bees, stones and trees. These are not necessarily contentious but classification systems can be more contentious – describing ethnic background, gender preferences, diagnosis in healthcare. These systems are designed with a purpose and sometimes an underlying framework. Whether we agree with these or not, it is important to understand the system and its functions.
The delayed NHS Long Term Plan was finally published this week. It’s encouraging that mental health is mentioned prominently in the plan. The focus is on both adult and children’s mental health as well as learning disabilities. Staff wellbeing is also mentioned.
It’s World Mental Health Day and there has been a lot of attention to this with programmes, news etc. on TV and radio, Twitter as well as blogs focusing on things such as early warning signs, the importance seeking help and reducing stigma. And this is another blog on World Mental Health Day…..
There are many publications, tweets, media reports and so on around celebrating the National Health Service’s 70th birthday on 5th July this year. There is less focus on social care although it is also the anniversary of the founding of the social care system. Health and social care are inextricably linked so it may feel as if we celebrate the birthday of one twin but not the other. The impact on colleagues who work in social care is likely to be negative. The celebration of the NHS at 70 may also feel negative to those who are working in difficult situations – poor environments, lack of support, insecure employment and reducing wages.
It’s been a year since the Manchester Arena bombing. This week also saw the start of the Grenfell Tower enquiry. There can be hardly anyone who has not been touched by these events in some way – whether directly or indirectly, professionally or personally. The testimonies of those who survived the events and those who lost loved ones has been all around over the past week. Some have been heart-breaking and some uplifting as people have expressed their own personal experiences. Some people have chosen not to talk publicly or to retreat from all the public memorials and that needs also to be respected.
The Mental Health Foundation have identified next week as Mental Health Awareness week with the theme of stress for 2018. There is a lot of information available on the website about stress, managing stress and how to support their campaign.
There are probably a million and one ways to say something. But how do we decide how to say something? How we speak to our family and friends is often different to how we speak to people at work. At work, we may speak differently to different audiences – our service users/patients, our colleagues, our managers. We also use jargon – this can be helpful in precise communication with someone who speaks the same jargon. In academic contexts, we can use less frequently used words and express ourselves in a different more complex way with longer and more complex sentences too. This may support the clear expression of complex ideas (or it may not).
The new Psychological Professions Network Alliance has completed its first piece of work. We have jointly written a report on how we can support the new Health Education England Workforce plan that was developed to support the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health implementation plan.
It’s hard to believe we’re nearly at the end of another year. I’m probably not the only person who thinks the year has gone very quickly. The Psychological Professions Network has had a busy year and gained more members and taken on projects on behalf of Health Education England (Core 24 and assistant practitioners to name but two). We organised a live-streamed panel debate on The Future Professional Representation of Clinical Psychology. This was watched by over 100 people live on the night and streamed by a further 1100 in the following week. We also contributed to the Digital IAPT summit in Manchester earlier this month with a presentation around the importance of wellbeing in our Psychological Wellbeing Practitioner workforce.
Last night (19th October), a panel discussion took place in Manchester with representatives from different organisations and viewpoints. The areas represented included:
The dreadful events in Manchester on Monday night will have had an impact on us all. Some of us may have been directly affected, some of us may have been indirectly affected, some may be professionally involved and some of us may become involved professionally over the months. It’s important to recognise the impact of something happening so close to home. Many of us will know what helps in situations like this and many of us may well be involved in providing advice and support.