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.
PPN North West Blog
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).
A cognitive assessment can be used to gain an understanding of a person’s higher mental functions, and how these skills and abilities impact on their lives. The potential benefits of assessment include: obtaining a profile of cognitive deficits and strengths to assist formulation and treatment plans; clarifying cognitive profiles that exist alongside co-morbid mental health issues which may aid diagnosis (- e.g. differentiating between progressive and non-progressive conditions); assisting clients, families, carers and colleagues in understanding cognitive issues and the likely impact on the client’s everyday function; and, providing evidence to assist with decisions about Capacity issues.
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.
In March it was the 10th Anniversary of the New Savoy Partnership Psychological Therapies Conference and an opportunity to reflect on the last 10 years. As someone who’s worked in and with the Step 2 workforce throughout that time it’s certainly interesting to look back at just how much the PWP role has developed, although I was a little sad to note that, according to the delegate list anyway, not one working PWP was in attendance – they were probably all back at the day job working hard to get their contacts in for the last quarter of 2016/2017!
Last week, I co-facilitated a Schwartz Round with students at the University of Liverpool. This was the sixth Round we have run with students at the university. I first heard about Schwartz Rounds at a conference I attended several years ago. The presenter's enthusiasm for Rounds sparked an interest in me. I was keen to know more but also curious to know whether the Rounds offered anything additional to the reflective spaces I was already familiar with in my work as a clinical psychologist. Did Schwartz Rounds offer anything different or better?
As many of you will know it’s Time to Talk day on Thursday this week. It’s part of the Time to Change campaign to end mental health discrimination. The point of the Time to Talk day is to increase conversations about mental health to reduce the isolation and negative feelings that people may experience when dealing with a mental health problem. For those of us working in clinical settings, this may be what you do every day – talk to people with mental health problems. That’s important and the role we have in doing this is a privilege as well as hard work – we should definitely keep doing this. How often are we able to do this in other settings? We often have those conversations that involve one person saying ‘How are you?’ and the other saying ‘Fine’ or ‘Hanging in there’. We may nod sympathetically but perhaps we don’t ask more and the conversation moves on. Perhaps it’s time to think about doing things differently – could we say something else that may be encourages a different conversation. There could be so many ways of doing this and I’m sure you all know of many different options. So instead of moving on, we could ask ‘What’s been happening?’ or ‘How’s your day/week going?’
Unless you have been completely shut off from civilisation, you will be aware that a crisis in football has erupted. Well that’s what the press are calling it, but I disagree, the crisis isn’t in football, but in how we deal with the mental health and wellbeing of male victims and survivors of sexual abuse.
It’s been a big week for mental health in the media this week starting with Theresa May’s speech at the Charity Commission which focused on children’s mental health. Jeremy Hunt was also on the radio commenting on children’s mental health and the need to reduce avoidable deaths.
Happy New Year from the PPN. The start of a new year can sometimes feel a bit arbitrary and there are different New Year dates in different cultures (as well as different Christmas dates). However, the change of the year number often does feel like a marker and a point to reset and refocus. It can also be a time of creating expectations for oneself that may not be easily achievable e.g. joining a gym and doing more exercise. While the goals are desirable, we don’t all find them easy to stick to and then we may use them as ways to criticise ourselves. As psychological professionals, I’m sure we are all aware of the potential impact of this pattern of behaviour. Perhaps we could also see this as an opportunity to try new things and review their fit for ourselves – so maybe not the gym but perhaps a regular walk is achievable?
There has been much written about eye contact and that maintaining it can need extra brain power. Also averting one's gaze can help one think. However, an interesting finding is that our eyes are in constant motion - microsaccades. The reason for this is that if our brains are presented with a static image then they no longer 'see' it and will not process what is in front of us. Therefore, even when we are staring at a fixed point - our eyes are constantly moving creating that sense of a changing landscape. This is in addition to the voluntary movements we make when we are reading, looking at pictures, TV or talking to someone.
There has been a lot of focus in the media recently about the abuse experienced by boys at football clubs and some of them have grown up to become professional footballers. Some of these professional footballers who are now retired have been on television and radio to say what happened to them. There are now reports of over 860 phone calls to an NSPCC hotline, 17 police forces are now investigating, police have said around 350 people have reported child sexual abuse at UK football clubs. The numbers are big and behind all these numbers are the traumatic experiences of boys who thought they were being giving the opportunity to follow their dream. Yet following that dream came at the price of living a nightmare: One said ‘From being 11 years of age, you didn’t discuss things like that because the dream would have burst’.
This time last week, Laura Golding and I were privileged to be in Santander, Spain presenting on the PPN. This was a journey that took a day to get there and a day to get back as there did not appear to be any winter flights directly to Santander from the North of England. We flew from Manchester to London, then from London to Madrid and then on to Santander. In total, three flights and two taxis and lots of walking around airports (steps targets met!). The only things missing transport-wise were trains and boats but there were plenty of boats to be seen in the harbour at Santander. It was strange being at work in Santander – it didn’t look like work (or anywhere I have worked) and it felt like it should have been a holiday but we were there with work colleagues and we did do some work too!
The PPN 4th annual conference took place today. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be able to open the event. Our key note speaker was Jacqui Dyer – Vice Chair of the Mental Health Task Force amongst her many other roles and achievements – both personal and professional.