Work experience opportunities for 14, 15 and 16 year olds in North London

The Mental Health Collective is looking for 14, 15 and 16 year olds who live in striking distance of Crouch End (North London), and would like to get some work experience in our non-profit mental health organisation.

The work experience sessions will happen on Sundays, late afternoon, in March and early April.  We’ve designed these roles so they meet the volunteering criterion for the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme – but they would be good for anyone who wants to have fun and get some work experience. 

The project you’ll be working on is called “PhoneZombies!” – it’s about mental health, mobile phones and moral panic.  Are mobile phones disconnecting us from each other, zoning us out and damaging our mental health?  Are we turning into some kind of phone zombies?  Or is this a moral panic – like in the 1950s when people thought that rock and roll music was poisoning teenagers brains?

You could volunteer either on your own or with friends, and join one of three teams:

1. Film making team
This team will make some zombie movies about people on their phones!  We need people to act in and make the films, and then we are going to have a film premiere on Sunday 31st March at the Crouch End Picture House – on a proper big cinema screen.

2. Research team
This team will help get to the bottom of what’s really going on with mobile phones and mental health.  You’ll get involved in real, on-the-ground research to help us figure out the key questions, write a report that will be published on the Mental Health , and be acknowledged as an author.

3. Marketing and Communications team
This team will lead on promoting the films and research report so they reach the widest possible audience – getting people along to the launch event at the cinema and share materials online.  Together, we will play an April Fools joke that is the crescendo for this project. 

We’ll do our planning sessions at the Highgate Cricket and Lawn Tennis club, off Park Road – just next to Highgate Wood school (W7 bus, nearest tube is Highgate).

If you would like some work experience with the Mental Health Collective and join one of our teams, please register here.

Key dates
Sunday 3rd March, 4pm – 5:30pm.
Highgate Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club.

Sunday 10th March, 4pm – 5:30pm.
Highgate Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club.

Sunday 17th March, 4pm – 5:30pm.
Highgate Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club.

Sunday 24th March, 4:30pm – 5:30pm
Highgate Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club.

Sunday 31st March, 11:00am – 12:00.
Film Premiere and Research Launch, Crouch End Picturehouse, Screen 4.

Monday 1st April (morning).
April Fools joke is played (no physical meeting).

Sunday 7th April (late afternoon)
Evaluation and wrap party. Location tbc.

Very positive evaluation for Living Advent Calendar

Opening up the survey results with feedback on your own projects is always a slighting anxiety inducing experience. But in all my time as a researcher, I can’t remember a more lovely surprise than when I opened up the file to see what participants thought of our Living Advent Calendar project.

The project gets volunteers from 24 houses and hubs in the local community to illuminate their windows with festive decorations in December. One window is ‘opened’ each day from the 1st to the 24th December and remains illuminated until 12th night.

Totaling up feedback from the first four years of the project (2015-2018), 89% of participants gave the Living Advent Calendar the maximum rating for its overall success, with no individual rating it as neutral or negative. 85% of respondents gave the project the maximum positive rating in terms of their own experience, with no individual rating it as neutral or negative for them personally. Whilst this evaluation was modest in its scope, it’s hard not to conclude that the Living Advent Calendar as been a resounding success. Even with the most temperate scholarly attitude, it’s hard to interpret this data as suggesting anything else.

Qualitative quotes describe the joy that the calendar has brought, and how valuable it has been for bringing people together. The most common recurring word to describe the project was “lovely”:

“Obsessed with it… being able to take part changes how I feel about the whole area”

“It’s so lovely…to have a heartwarming experience walking around this area after dark, especially given the reports of crime”

“Such a magical way to bring the community together!”

“Really enjoyed getting to know neighbours”

“Makes the neighbourhood feel more accessible and gives it a warm personality”

The calendar was featured as a case study by the Eden Project, and has inspired similar projects in Manchester, Walthamstow, Weston-Super-Mare, Norwich and Somerset.  

You can download the full data set here.

Fellows of the Mental Health Collective

This New Years Day, we are delighted to recognise the following people as Fellows of the Mental Health Collective:

Claire Barcham FMHC 
Andy Bell FMHC 
Mark Brown FMHC 

Dave Chawner FMHC 
Samantha Child FMHC 
Paul Crawford FMHC 
Anthony Deery FMHC 
Anselm Eldergill FMHC 
Alex Evans FMHC 
Kim Forrester FMHC 
Steve Gilbert FMHC 
Richard Grange FMHC 
Raf Hamaizia FMHC 
Sarah Hughes FMHC 
Seth Hunter FMHC 
Kate King FMHC 
Hannah Lewis FMHC 
Karen Linde FMHC 
Millie Macdonald FMHC 
Chris Naylor FMHC 
Chris O’Sullivan FMHC 
Russell Razzaque FMHC 
Vicky Romback FMHC 
Cal Strode FMHC 
Tutiette Thomas FMHC
Nick Webb FMHC 

Simon Wessely FMHC

“How to Get Through The Night” – A new self-help resource

This Friday will be the longest night of the year.  On 21st December there will be a whole 16 hours and 11 minutes between sunset and sunrise.

People get insomnia at all times of years, but a lot of us find these long dark nights especially difficult.  Sleep is, of course, a crucial part of good mental health.  It’s easy to get into a vicious cycle, where mental health difficulties prevent you from sleeping well, and then being tired exacerbates mental health difficulties.  Before you know it, a sleepless night can turn in to a dark night of the soul.

Having endured  many of these dark nights myself, I have developed a set of personal top tips!

 You can download them by clicking here.

So let’s change our sheets and get some nice clean pyjamas.  Fill up our phones with our fave self-care resources and stock up on lavender oil.  Lets get ready for the longest night of the year.

Volunteer vacancies: Youth Advisors

The Mental Health Collective is currently running a new programme, Self-Defence Through Humour, which aims to support young people to defend themselves against threats to their mental health, using humour.  With an innovation award from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we are in the process of piloting the programme in a number of secondary schools.

We are recruiting for volunteer Youth Advisors to assist with the project.  Their role is to help us design the Self-Defence Through Humour programme so it as engaging and valuable as possible for young people.

About the Youth Advisor roles

This volunteer role is designed to be compatible with the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award, but would be suitable for any young person looking to gain experience in the not-for-profit or mental health sector.

Tasks will include:

  • Assisting with research, both online and offline
  • Testing materials and giving feedback
  • Working as part of a team to develop ideas
  • Highlighting key issues and resources
  • Supporting marketing work

About you

We are looking for people who are:

  • Aged 13 or 14 (Year 9)
  • Confident to share opinions
  • Able to work well in a team
  • Contactable by phone

Lived experience of mental health difficulties is a positive asset for the role.  We are seeking to recruit young people from a range of different backgrounds, including those who have faced disadvantage in their lives.

You can apply on your own, or with a friend.

Practicalities and commitment

The role involves a one hour commitment each week, over either a 3 month or a 6 month period.

Youth Advisors will meet as a group in Archway, N19, once a week after school during term time (exact time and date tbc).

Next steps

If you are interested in becoming a Youth Advisor (either as an individual or with a friend), or would like to enquire on behalf of your child, please write a short email to amy@mentalhealthcollective.org.uk.

Mental Health Collective to chair topic group for the Mental Health Act Review

Founder and Director of the Mental Health Collective, Dr Amy Pollard, has been asked to chair the Dignity and Safety Group for the Mental Health Act Review.

Dr Pollard said:

“The independent review of the Mental Health Act, commissioned by the Prime Minister, is a once-in-a generation opportunity to shape legislation and practice which holds the ultimate power over people facing a mental health crisis.

It is an honour to have been asked by Prof. Sir Simon Wessely to chair the Dignity and Safety topic group – drilling down on the Mental Health Act and the structures around it can be reshaped to address the appalling sense of dehumanisation, indignity and disrespect that a high proportion of people under section experience.

The group’s work comes at a particularly poignant time for me – exactly two years after I was sectioned myself.

The topic group brings together eminent representatives who have lived experience of the Act themselves, the BAME community, CQC, NHSI,  mental health trusts, academia, psychiatry, charities and community services, alongside a secretariat from the Department of Health and Social Care.  Together, we are determined that the Mental Health Act Review seizes every possible opportunity to bring greater dignity, safety and humanity into the lives of people in mental health crisis.”

Facilitating strategy with Hertfordshire Mind

It’s been a great pleasure to work with Hertfordshire Mind over the last few months, supporting them in a facilitated process to develop their organisational strategy.

In a partnership between Mental Health Collective and the Innovation Unit, Nick Webb (@drnwebb) and I delivered a series of three workshops – first with staff members, then with the board of trustees, and finally bringing all stakeholders together.  Through this process we supported the development of an organisational strategy rooted in the expertise of the whole team and energised by their collective vision.

It’s been fascinating and humbling to see the hidden treasures emerge through this process.  We heard the passion and commitment that Herts Mind staff bring to their work; the innovative thinking at board level; and saw the power of this collective team to address problems and carve out a new direction for the future.

More than ever, it reinforced my conviction that when people with diverse forms of expertise are able to meaningfully connect with one another, there is no end to the surprising ways that challenges can be unlocked.

 

I was delighted to feature on Ditch the Small Talk, a podcast hosted by the marvellous Denean Rowe, discussing the Mental Health Collective, Self-Defence Through Humour and, of course, the importance of dauphinoise potatoes.

Fellows of the Mental Health Collective

This New Years Day, we are delighted to recognise the following people as Fellows of the Mental Health Collective:

Claire Barcham FMHC
Andy Bell FMHC
Mark Brown FMHC

Dave Chawner FMHC
Samantha Child FMHC
Paul Crawford FMHC
Anthony Deery FMHC
Anselm Eldergill FMHC
Alex Evans FMHC
Kim Forrester FMHC
Steve Gilbert FMHC
Richard Grange FMHC
Raf Hamaizia FMHC
Sarah Hughes FMHC
Seth Hunter FMHC
Kate King FMHC
Hannah Lewis FMHC
Karen Linde FMHC
Millie Macdonald FMHC
Chris Naylor FMHC
Chris O’Sullivan FMHC
Russell Razzaque FMHC
Vicky Romback FMHC
Cal Strode FMHC
Tutiette Thomas FMHC
Nick Webb FMHC

Simon Wessely FMHC